No evidence that physical activity calorie-equivalent (PACE) labelling changes food purchasing in worksite cafeterias

Posted: 08/11/2022

An experiment carried out across ten workplace cafeterias found no significant change in the overall number of calories purchased when food and drink labels showed the amount of physical activity required to burn off their calories.

“Physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) labels, contrary to expectations, may have little or no impact on the food people buy in worksite cafeterias,” said Professor Theresa Marteau, senior author, Director, Behaviour and Health Research Unit, University of Cambridge

More than three in five UK adults are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cancer. A major factor that contributes to this is excess energy intake – in other words, eating too many calories. Measures that can help reduce energy intake could help tackle the obesity problem.


People smoke more when smoking from larger pack sizes

Posted: 07/11/2022

The first experimental evidence that people smoke more when smoking from larger pack sizes has been published in Addiction today. The research was designed to test whether lowering cigarette pack sizes from 25 to 20 reduced the number of cigarettes smoked.

Smoking remains one of the largest risk factors for disease globally and is a major contributor to the gap in life expectancy and years lived in good health between the richest and poorest groups.

Food studies show that smaller portion and pack sizes reduce how much people eat and reducing glass and bottle sizes can reduce the amount of alcohol that people drink.


Do the size of servings, glasses and bottles influence how much people drink?

Posted: 13/10/2022

People consume more food and non-alcoholic drinks when presented with larger portions or packages, and when using larger items of tableware, such as plates or glasses. But what about when presented with larger servings and containers of alcohol? We conducted a review to summarise the evidence for the influence of the size of servings glasses and bottles on how much people drink, to investigate whether making sizes smaller could reduce alcohol consumption across populations, thereby improving health.

We found 10 relevant published reports of 15 studies and one review. Twelve studies and the review focused on wine drinking, one study on beer and two on both. All were conducted in England, by just two research groups.


Impact of wine bottle and glass sizes on wine consumption at home: a within and between households randomised controlled trial

Posted: 18/08/2022

People drink less in restaurants when wine is served with smaller glasses and less at home from smaller bottles of wine. Would they also drink less wine at home when drinking from smaller glasses? And how much wine would people drink when using smaller glasses and smaller bottles? The results of the first study to address these questions –– suggests that consuming wine at home from smaller glasses could reduce consumption by about 6.5%. The effect of drinking wine in smaller bottles is less certain.

During two 14-day study periods, 217 households in the UK that drank wine regularly purchased a pre-set volume of wine – based on their usual weekly consumption – in either 75cl or 37.5cl bottles, in randomised order. They we also randomised to drink from either smaller glasses (290ml) or larger wine glasses (350ml).


What is the impact of health warning labels on motivation towards energy-dense snack foods?

Posted: 30/05/2022

Excess consumption of energy is a key driver of increasing rates of obesity, which in itself contributes to a range of non-communicable and communicable diseases.

One way to tackle excess consumption of energy is to use health warning labels (HWLs) that include aversive images illustrating the negative consequences of consuming high-calorie foods. Previous studies have found that image-and-text HWLs increase dietary self-control in relation to snacks and reduce hypothetical selection of high-calorie snacks.


What is the impact of e-cigarette retail displays on attitudes to smoking and e-cigarette use in children?

Posted: 25/04/2022

Tobacco retail displays are banned in many countries, including in the UK. This ban is to address the link between these displays and increased smoking among adults, and greater susceptibility to smoking among children, leading to poorer health. Tobacco products are stored instead within covered units; however, these units often remain visible and positioned below tobacco signage.

There is no equivalent ban on displays of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in the UK, which are often positioned alongside covered tobacco storage units. There is currently an absence of evidence on whether e-cigarette retail displays are linked to increased smoking or e-cigarette use.


Changing the assortments of foods and drinks on offer to consumers could make diets leaner and greener

Posted: 20/04/2022

Altering the mix of foods and drinks available in shops, restaurants and bars could help improve diets, reduce inequalities and protect the environment, according to a new analysis by Professor Theresa Marteau and colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge, UCL, Oxford and Aston.

Such measures, called availability interventions, might see a proportion of confectionery items on offer in supermarkets replaced with fruit or nuts, for example; or some meat based meals replaced with plant-based ones on a restaurant menu.

Unhealthy diets are one of the largest contributors to preventable disease, health inequalities and early deaths worldwide. Policies and interventions that reduce the supply and consumption of meat, alcohol and sugary foods would improve population health globally, reduce health inequalities and help limit environmental harms associated with food production.


Does communicating evidence of multiple compared to single benefits increase public support for policies?

Posted: 14/02/2022

Reducing the amount of high calorie foods, meat and alcohol people consume would improve population and planetary health. Interventions shown to work, however, tend to lack public support, which reduces their chances of being implemented into government policies. Telling people that policies are effective can increase public support but there is uncertainty about how best to communicate this information.


Do different sizes and shapes of tableware impact self-serving of food and alcohol?

Posted: 21/10/2021

Excessive consumption of alcohol and high calorie foods are two significant preventable causes of many diseases. Changing the size of tableware or packaging is one possible method for reducing consumption.

In a laboratory setting, we randomised 140 adults to the order they completed two studies. In each study participants were asked to complete six conditions in random order, during which they were instructed to self-serve their typical amount of food or wine.


Energy labelling for healthier selection and consumption of food or alcohol

Posted: 14/06/2021

Our new systematic review protocol is now published in the Cochrane Library. This protocol is an update to a previous review published in 2018, which found that adding calorie labels to menus and next to food in restaurants, coffee shops and cafeterias, could reduce the calories that people consume, although the quality of evidence was low.


The Lancet–Chatham House Commission on Improving Population Health post COVID-19

Posted: 16/07/2020

The Lancet-Chatham House Commission on Improving Population Health post COVID-19 will launch this autumn to map the shared roots of the biggest risks to population and planetary health, and to build a framework for action. It will be led by Professor Dame Theresa Marteau (University of Cambridge) and Professor Harry Rutter (University of Bath). We are recruiting for a Research Associate to work on the Commission: deadline 28th July 2020