Finding Healthy Online

Two people sitting at desks, looking at laptops.

A project to share and initiate research-industrial insight on how online supermarket food environments can support healthier more sustainable diets for consumers.

Summary

Digital food retail environments are used more than ever before and are influencing what people eat and public health.

To support website design that facilitates healthier and more sustainable food purchases, the project aims to build an academic-industry relationship with nutritionists, psychologists and a digital food retail space (Ocado).

Together, we will co-design and conduct initial research to explore how consumers interact with features of this commercial online food environments, and how these environments influence consumer’s food choices.

Novelty

To improve ecological validity and overcome some limitations of previous experimental research, the current project will investigate consumers’ purchases and website use in a real-life online supermarket environment.

We will collect eye-tracking data and detailed qualitative insights and analyse these new datasets to understand how this environment influences consumers’ navigation behaviour and food choices.

The product description for Nesquik hot chocolate on the Ocado website. There are grey and red circles over the nutritional information - the circles show the tracked eye-movement of the user.

 

Project aims

  1. To establish a strong and lasting new industry-academic partnership.
  2. To conduct initial research exploring real-world consumer interactions with online retail food environments and to develop realistic pathways for websites’ designs that encourage and support consumers in making healthier choices when shopping online.

Publications and outputs

The team will:

  • produce co-authored project-focused publications
  • present findings at the American Society for Nutrition 2024 Conference
  • organise two public engagement events in Manchester and Leeds
  • host an end-of-project forum at the Ocado headquarters
  • develop dynamic dissemination material including a project one-pager (PDF).

Institutions & Team 

  1. University of Leeds, School of Food Science and Nutrition: Dr Sally Moore (PI), Sushila Pisano (Project Coordinator) 
  2. Manchester Metropolitan University, School of Psychology: Dr Yael Benn (Co-PI), Orla Peters (Research assistant), Mohammadali Charoosaei (Research Assistant) 
  3. Ocado: Charlie Parker (Senior Nutritionist)  

Funding sources 

The Consumer Lab, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with support from the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC), grant reference BB/X010805/1. In Partnership with Ocado Retail, UK.

The Consumer Lab funding announcement.

Funding period 

  • Start date: 12 February 2024 
  • End date: 12 August 2024

Project website

https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1528-towards-effective-healthier-digital-food-environments:-exploring-the-roles-of-consumers,-practitioners-and-industry.