Understanding lived experience of food environments to inform policy: an overview of research methods

Kimberley Neve, Corinna Hawkes, Jess Brock, Mark Spires, Anna Isaacs, Charlotte Gallagher Squires, Rosalind Sharpe, Daisy Bradbury, Jane Battersby, Geraldine Chaboud, Alex Chung, Damien Conare, John Coveney, Kathrin Demmler, Angela Dickinson, Julia Diez, Michelle Holdsworth, Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, Amos Laar, Dalia MattioniBriar Mckenzie, Ana Moragues Faus, Coline Perrin, Rebecca Pradeilles, Sophia Schuff, Jessica Shipman, Christopher Turner, Carmen Vargas, Simon Vonthron, Milka Wanjohi, Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, Jill Whelan, Christina Zorbas

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Food environments represent the space in which people make decisions about food – what to eat, where to buy it, when and with whom to eat it., etc. By exploring the context into which policies play out in people’s lives, evidence of the lived experience of food environments provides a unique source of knowledge on why policies designed to improve diets succeed or fail. Evidence into how people navigate their food environments in the context of their everyday realities can thus provide insights into how to design policies that more equitably and effectively improve diets, nutrition, health and wellbeing.
A wide range of qualitative methods is available to provide evidence of people’s lived experience of food environments, including in-depth interviews, photo elicitation, go-along tours, community observation, group model building, and co-design methodologies. Each method has different potential for gaining insights into how people interact with food environments.
Despite the potential of these methods to generate evidence to inform more
equitable, effective policies, the amount of research conducted using these methods remains modest compared to quantitative studies of food environments. Policy-makers should pay more attention to the evidence generated by lived experience research while also generating demand for it to inform their nutrition and health policies.
Considerably more effort is needed to translate findings of lived experience research into concrete policy recommendations, and communicate them to decision-makers effectively. Researchers should engage directly with policy-makers to design and communicate lived experience studies to directly inform more effective and equitable policies.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherCentre for Food Policy, City, University of London
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Food environments
  • health and wellbeing
  • Dietary behaviour
  • nutrition


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