University of Nottingham: New study asks whether Universal Credit uplift has influenced people’s diets

Volunteers are needed for a study looking into whether the £20 uplift in Universal Credit has had a positive impact on their diet and nutrition.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham have launched the Income, Diet and Nutrition study to explore income, the uplift to Universal Credit and its influence on the food included in people’s diets, their micronutrient intake and food security status.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 families in receipt of Universal Credit were given an extra £20 per week, this is due to end next month.

Researchers are looking for 100 volunteers aged 18-65 who have been receiving Universal Credit to take part in two stages of the study. In each stage people will be asked to complete a 24-hour dietary recall and a survey, there is also an option to provide a blood and urine sample.

The Universal Credit uplift gave a boost to family incomes and we want to see what impact this has had on their diets. Have they been eating more fresh fruit and vegetables? Has their diet been more varied? Have they tried new things? – these are some of the questions we hope to answer and get a picture of the food security status of people in our region.
Michelle Thomas, researcher and study lead, Division of Food Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Nottingham
Food poverty, often referred to as household food insecurity, can be caused by a crisis in finance or personal circumstances. It may also be a long-term experience of not being able to access or have the facilities to prepare a healthy diet. It encompasses both the affordability of food and its availability within local communities. An estimated  8.4 million people in the UK struggling to get enough to eat and food insecurity can affect anyone.

We are undertaking a number of studies looking into how diets have changed during the pandemic. There are so many factors that influence our daily food choices and income is probably one of the biggest, we hope to find out what a difference just £20 per week can make to a person’s diet and nutritional intake.
Dr Simon Welham

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