All people have a basic need for nutrition, but the way we meet that need varies according to several key influences. While access and education clearly affect the food-related choices each of us makes every day, cultural, psychological, and physiological contexts also play significant roles. The success of any program depends on its recognition of multiple contributing factors.
In order to engage the appropriate stakeholders, the New London County Food Policy Council will look at the food system through two lenses. The first, a political lens, allows for policies to support changes in the system, while the second economic lens allows for the financial constraints and accounts for the overall impact on the regional economy.
These lenses will be applied to three perspectives on the underlying needs to be addressed. These diverse views are
- Sociological: allows for a consideration of the cultural practices within a given community. Creating programs that leverage the cultural norms of a community can bring a community closer together and optimize the chance of success for programs to improve dietary choices.
- Psychological: takes into account the personal drivers behind eating behaviors and includes the need to preserve dignity through choice, and the provision of comfort and security particularly for individuals who are responsible for feeding others.
- Physiological: provides much of the subconscious stimulus for overeating. Recent studies have shown that consumption of high fat and high sugar products conditions the body to desire more of these foods, leading to a cycle of overeating compounded by the higher accessibility of these foods in supermarkets, restaurants and school cafeterias.
Consideration of the sociological, physiological and psychological influences on food choices can increase the chance of success of any program aimed at improving nutrition and reducing obesity.
Taking this model into account, the New London Food Policy Council will consider the social, psychological and physiological drivers of choice, and engage partners at the political, economic and moral level to ensure full inclusion and collaboration in all activities.