Hi Bettina! How is your research going to make health and wellbeing easier for everyone to achieve?

Bettina Backman is addressing the influence of the in-store food environment to help promote healthier food purchases and dietary habits.

My PhD project focuses on the sustainment of healthy food retail environment changes. By addressing the influence of the in-store food environment on consumer choices, we can promote healthier food purchases and dietary habits. While many successful food retail interventions have been implemented, it remains unclear if in-store food environment changes are maintained in the long term. My PhD project seeks to understand how healthy changes are sustained over time, so that we can transform everyday food retail environments to support improved diet-related health outcomes in the long term.

What inspired you to undertake this research?

For a long time, I’ve been passionate about how diet influences people’s health. During my Master of Health Promotion studies at Deakin University (that I competed last year), I realised that we need bigger and more structural changes to support healthy behaviours, rather than just focusing on individuals. I believe that looking at the role of the food environment in preventing health issues is a fairer approach that can also remove the shame around diet-related health problems. In terms of sustainment, it’s exciting to think about how we can make a lasting impact with our work.

If you could recommend one book for everyone at IHT to read, what would that be?

Any book that can open your mind to other people’s viewpoints. My all-time favourite is ‘Away From Darkness’ by Taylor Hunt. It’s a powerful story about overcoming drug addiction and finding healing through yoga (ok, I’m biased as I practice yoga!). Another book I’m currently reading is ‘Finding the Heart of the Nation’ by Thomas Mayor, which couldn’t be more relevant today.

What is your favourite podcast? (Apart from the IHT podcast, of course!)

I must admit that I’m quite bad at listening to podcasts (I like to think that’s because I’m a visual learner). However, I do enjoy listening to quick news podcasts like ABC News Daily when I’m on the go, whether I’m driving or working out at the gym. It’s a great way to stay informed while getting things done at the same time.

You’ve got a Saturday afternoon completely to yourself, what would we find you doing?

Surfing or doing long bush walks with my dog.

And finally, what is the best lesson you have learned so far during your PhD completion?

Everything takes a lot of time!