Do Target Groups Appreciate Being Targeted? An Exploration of Healthy Eating Policy Acceptance
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The impact of healthy eating policies falls behind policy maker’s expectations. Better targeting and stakeholder support should improve their effectiveness. The research aims to identify whether a target group (the group impacted by the policy measure) is characterised by higher acceptance levels or not. Acceptance among citizens from the target was compared to a matching non-target group, based on data from an online survey on citizens’ support of healthy eating policies conducted among 3003 adult respondents from five European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Poland, UK). The policies explored were bans of advertising to children or school vending machines, school meal regulations, education campaigns at schools and workplaces, menu nutrition information and food labelling, price subsidies for healthy food, and accessibility measures for the elderly. It was found that target groups showed more support than others for four policies: parents were more supportive of vending machine bans in schools and workers eating out at lunch of education campaigns at workplaces, food labelling was more supported by those considering nutrition content in food purchase, and price subsidies for healthy food more supported by respondents in financial difficulties. However, parents were less supportive of school education campaigns, and the pattern of support through the target group differed by country. It is concluded that members of the target group tend to, but are not per se especially supportive of healthy eating policy measures concerning themselves or their children, and there are great country differences. Acceptance of policies should be surveyed per target group and country in advance of implementation. In the case of lack in acceptance, further exploration of the barriers should be conducted so that the benefit of the policy can be more effectively communicated, assuming that this increases stakeholder cooperation and favourable peer influence.
KeywordsHealthy eating Public policy Acceptance Target group Social marketing
JEAW has formulated the research question and written the manuscript except for the data analysis section, SC has conducted the analysis and written the data analysis section, TBL has contributed to the formulation of the research question; all authors have contributed to the design of the overall study, commented on the manuscript, and agreed to the final version.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This research was supported by a grant from the European Community (EC) FP7 Research Programme to the EATWELL consortium under grant agreement no. 226713, Eatwell Project (www.eatwellproject.eu). The EC had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.
Conflict of Interest
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