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Approved research

Hidden scarcity: Commuting induced time poverty and healthy lifestyles of low SES subjects

Principal Investigator: Professor Lucia Reisch
Approved Research ID: 46961
Approval date: May 29th 2019

Lay summary

Aims The aim of this research is to find out whether time scarcity (particularly measured by needed commuting time) and time stress influence the healthiness of food and drink intake of poor households in the UK. We also want to find out whether more generally, healthy lifestyles (e.g., physical activity, subjective well-being) are influenced by having only little wealth in time. To reach this aim, we use a spectrum of methodological approaches including conventional econometric and big data / machine learning approaches. Scientific rationale The study is based on prior research in time use studies, poverty studies, and public health research. Current evidence suggests that it is not only little knowledge, limited budgets, and low cooking and food skills that impair poor households to make healthier (food) choices (which has been shown to be the case), but that on top the time squeeze many poor households face is also of importance. The availability of detailed food consumption patterns in connection with objective health measures together with the structure of the data, enables us to operationalize these variables and to find pathways of influence. Project duration The UK Biobank study will last 12 months (December 2018 - December 2019). Public health impact Poor households usually cannot afford to source out work or duties and have little external help; moreover, they have potentially also little bargaining power and control over their working hours and might be forced to spend much time commuting. These people might not be able to spend the needed time and effort on providing and preparing (themselves and their families) healthy diets and engage into physical activity. The latter have been found to be positively linked to better health states (and negatively to obesity and other non-communicable diseases). The research will help better understand how these variables are interlinked and will also reveal the most critical entry points for potential public health policies. The project is an extension of a larger EU FP7 project (Nudge-it). The Application PI Lucia Reisch is a specialist in Public health policies and is tasked in Nudge-it with developing effective health policies for low SES consumers. The results of the Biobank study will be transferred into accessible policy documents and will be made available to policy makers in Europe.