After working with over 5,000 participants, we have an exceptional insight into the underlying reasons are for why people make the poor food choices they do.
It is commonly believed that the reason is a lack of cooking skills. In reality, research shows that people in poverty have similar cooking skills to the rest of the population. So this does not explain their significantly worse diet. The explanation lies elsewhere.
The real reasons are encompassed in the challenges our participants face in all aspects of their daily lives. They can be broadly characterised as
- Economic (what it costs) e.g.
- cost of food, transport, equipment, energy, storage, data
- Structural (things you can do nothing about) e.g.
- takeaway density in your area
- distance/transportation to and from shops
- Psychological (how you feel about it) e.g.
- mental health
- food preferences, particularly of kids
- Practical (skills, what you can learn)
These are the social determinants of health, the complex, interlinked, wider societal issues that influence our health.
Seeing the barriers in this way helps us to understand why cooking skills are just a small part of the reasons that people don’t cook.
Many of the cost related barriers are affected by the “Poverty Premium” – where people in poverty commonly pay more to access goods and services.
Understanding how many extra barriers affect those in poverty (most of the black and red ones), helps us to understand why some people see home cooking as an unachievable goal. It’s not “laziness”, it’s a sensible allocation of finite resources!
As the chart shows, the many more barriers that people in poverty face to improving their diets may seem insurmountable. The Bags of Taste programme is designed to tackle all of these barriers, and we show impact in all areas. This leads to dramatic change in our participants’ lives, including a typical 85% drop in takeaway consumption; £1,300 per annum savings on food bills and takeaways, and over half of our participants report improved health.
For a short presentation explaining the Social Determinants of Health, watch the video at the bottom of this page.