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Behaviour change for better health: nutrition, hygiene and sustainability

Newson, R. S.; Lion, R.; Crawford, R. J.; Curtis, V.; Elmadfa, I.; Feunekes, G. I. J.; Hicks, C.; van Liere, M.; Lowe, C. F.; Meijer, G. W.; Pradeep, B. V.; Reddy, K. S.; Sidibe, M.; Uauy, R.
Bmc Public Health, 2013; 13
As the global population grows there is a clear challenge to address the needs of consumers, without depleting natural resources and whilst helping to improve nutrition and hygiene to reduce the growth of noncommunicable diseases. For fast-moving consumer goods companies, like Unilever, this challenge provides a clear opportunity to reshape its business to a model that decouples growth from a negative impact on natural resources and health. However, this change in the business model also requires a change in consumer behaviour. In acknowledgement of this challenge Unilever organised a symposium entitled 'Behaviour Change for Better Health: Nutrition, Hygiene and Sustainability'. The intention was to discuss how consumers can be motivated to live a more healthy and sustainable lifestlye in today's environment. This article summarises the main conclusions of the presentations given at the symposium. Three main topics were discussed. In the first session, key experts discussed how demographic changes particularly in developing and emerging countries - imply the need for consumer behaviour change. The second session focused on the use of behaviour change theory to design, implement and evaluate interventions, and the potential role of ( new or reformulated) products as agents of change. In the final session, key issues were discussed regarding the use of collaborations to increase the impact and reach, and to decrease the costs, of interventions. The symposium highlighted a number of key scientific challenges for Unilever and other parties that have set nutrition, hygiene and sustainability as key priorities. The key challenges include: adapting behaviour change approaches to cultures in developing and emerging economies; designing evidence-based behaviour change interventions, in which products can play a key role as agents of change; and scaling up behaviour change activities in cost-effective ways, which requires a new mindset involving public-private partnerships.