Exploring readiness and interventions for a diet lower in red and processed meat among lower socio-economic status populations in the UK

Grantham Scholar Kristin Bash’s research focuses on how to reduce meat-eating in men holding routine and manual occupations in England.

Project background

Poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the UK as a whole, but the burden is not equally distributed throughout the population: lower socioeconomic (SES) population groups bear a higher burden of nutrition-related diseases (e.g., type 2 diabetes and heart disease) than those in higher SES populations.  It is also the case that lower SES population groups eat a higher amount of meat generally, and red and processed meat in particular. This is important because diets with high levels of meat are linked both to poor health and to environmental damage.

Many public health interventions have led to greater health improvements for those in higher SES groups than for those in lower SES groups; early anti-smoking public health campaigns, efforts to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables, and campaigns to increase activity and exercise levels are examples where improvements to population health have not been equally distributed and have contributed to the exacerbation of health inequalities across the social gradient.  Therefore it is essential to consider the effectiveness of public health interventions aimed at the reduction of meat consumption within lower SES groups in order to avoid this same pattern from reoccurring.

Project focus

My project focuses on meat-eating behaviour in people holding routine and manual occupations in England and explores their relationship with eating meat.  What are the dietary practices related to meat eating in this group? What are attitudes and views on meat and the practice of eating meat in these groups? How is advice to reduce meat consumption viewed and internalised?

Following from this, I will explore how best to reduce meat consumption by people who work in routine and manual occupations and use this to develop a population-level intervention. To inform this, I will investigate whether and how ‘reduced meat eating’ diffuses as a complex contagion through social networks; at potential barriers to change related to stigma and bias attached to people who limit their meat consumption (e.g., flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans); and at which level of intervention across the Nuffield ladder has the most potential to change meat consumption at population level.

Kristin Bash’s work in public health during the 2020 pandemic

Kristin has a professional background in public health, and during the pandemic she paused her PhD to work as a public health consultant for what is now the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) (previously Public Health England). As a public health consultant with the Yorkshire and Humber Health and Wellbeing Team, Kristin helped to support the response to Covid and its impacts on health inequalities across a range of areas, and supported the delivery of Covid updates to regional partner organisations.

Other work in public health

While away from her PhD, Kristin has continued her work with food systems and strategy. Within her role at OHID she has overseen the development of a healthier and resilient food network across Yorkshire and Humber. This network brings together public health practitioners and food partnerships from across the region to support and facilitate development of local food strategies across a range of issues, including food insecurity and sustainability. Kristin also chairs the Faculty of Public Health’s Food Special Interest Group, which provides expertise and advocacy for issues related to the overlap between food systems and population health.

Kristin Bash in our annual review

Kristin’s work in public health during the pandemic was featured in our annual review. Read: Our people and the pandemic, Grantham Centre annual review 2020-21.

Kristin Bash’s publications

Kristen has published a paper (co-branded with the Soil Association) that discusses links between food systems and both population and environmental health. It also makes recommendations for public health action to support healthy and sustainable food systems.

You can find a summary of the paper, including links to other Grantham Centre research, here. Or you can read the full paper: Sustainable Food Systems for a Healthier UK: A discussion paper’.

Social media and other resources

You can find Kristin on Twitter.

ScHARR profile and bio.

Kristin Bash