Professor Peter Scarborough co-leads new £5.4 million national consortium to transform the food system and encourage healthier diets

Salient project logo showing a brown bag of groceries

Professor Peter Scarborough co-leads new £5.4 million national consortium to transform the food system and encourage healthier diets

Date posted: 1 June 2023


SALIENT will co-design and evaluate interventions that support healthier diets and reduce the environmental impacts of our food system, working with partners in local government, food charities, community support teams and the food industry.

The SALIENT consortium, a partnership of academic and innovation institutions to run food system trials in England, has been launched today 1 June. The trials will evaluate interventions to assess their effectiveness in encouraging healthier and more sustainable diets. The programme is a cross institutional and interdisciplinary partnership, co-led by Peter Scarborough, Professor of Population Health, in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford and Martin White, Professor of Population Health Research at the University of Cambridge.  

SALIENT is funded by a £5.4 million research grant, awarded through a commissioning process run by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and will conduct work between January 2023 and March 2025.  The funding comes from the government’s Evaluation Accelerator Fund (EAF), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Poor diet is the second leading cause of ill health in the UK. In England, 26% of adults (12 million people) are obese and a further 38% are overweight. Obesity is responsible for illness and deaths from many diseases including type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer, heart disease and stroke. 

The SALIENT programme will design and trial a large number of interventions across the English food system, such as reducing availability of unhealthy foods in supermarkets or promoting plant based alternatives in canteens, to assess their effectiveness. The grant forms part of the government response to the National Food Strategy for England and it aims to improve the evidence base around what works and how to improve diets. The consortium team will engage with food system partners like major retailers as well as members of the public to design and test interventions that encourage the purchase of healthy sustainable food. Interventions will be tested in three priority settings - retail, catering and community support. 

The programme is designed to help inform best practice and evidence-based policy. Members of the consortium are working closely with a programme board led by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which includes officials across several government departments.

Visit the SALIENT website here.