Social-cultural processes and urban affordances for healthy and susainable food consumption
This paper (PDF) in Frontiers in Psychology provides an overview of research highlighting the relation between cultural processes, social norms, and food choices, discussing the implication of these findings for the promotion of more sustainable lifestyles. Development of evidence-based policies in the domain of more sustainable food choices could be based on a combination of cultural and education interventions with urban planning management and transformation. Furthermore, beside genetics, socio-economic status and differential exposure to environmental features are key factors in overweight and cardiovascular disease risks. The cultural values and representations attached to food and health should be the target of community interventions. Different cultures differ in the food production, preparation and consumption, but also in attitudes toward the relationship between food, health, and pleasure and the way food is acquired, prepared, processed and consumed in physical spaces. Social relationships could have a key role in the food production process too, as an important factor involved in the building of social capital, trust and social support. Urban growth and size is associated with both higher socio-economic productivity and wealth but also stronger inequalities. Walkability and restoration opportunities might help to buffer the impact of such negative features, without affecting the positive aspects of increased urbanism. Education programs and community interventions on food choices can thus be improved by acting on a multiplicity of factors, with issues of culture, identity and relationships at the base. Furthermore, the paper provides arguments suggesting links between cultural norms and cultural processes such as migration and acculturation, healthy food consumption patterns, and sustainable lifestyles. More research is needed on the links between cultural processes and positive urban environmental affordances. A challenge for more inclusive urban planning would be to increase walkability, provide more restoration opportunities, and promote access to more healthy food in urban peripheries, where many migrant communities live.