2020-2023 I+D+i Project – Retos – Coordinated

Eating matters: environmental risks and dietary uncertainties in later life

Funded by: Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (I+D+i Project – Retos – Coordinated. Subproject 2. Code: PID2019-104253RB-C22).

The main objective of this coordinated project is to answer the challenges faced by Spanish society and its institutions as they attempt to achieve fairer, healthier and more sustainable food systems in a context that is far from being politically and socioeconomically stable a context where lifes precariousness is having an impact on the increase in social inequality and the worsening of living conditions for the more vulnerable populations. Our research falls within Challenge 6 of “Social Sciences, Humanities and Natural Sciences With and For Society” (and linked to Challenge 1, “Health, Demographic Change and Well-being”, and Challenge 2, “Food Quality and Safety”), and its main goal is to help drive social and economic policy to tackle ageing and demographic change, social exclusion and poverty, as well as to promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Since an approach to food (in)security is only contemplated in a fragmented way in Spanish political and social agendas, wed like to propose a holistic approach to it in this study. This places at the centre of the debate the various forms of food insecurity that coexist today, their nature and scope, and in particular how they manifest themselves in one of the groups with the greatest demographic weight the elderly, a group which is also one of the most vulnerable. To the extent that this project focuses on economic and socio-cultural factors limiting people’s equitable access to one of the basic requirements for subsistence, we will analyse the unequal impact that the gender system has on various forms of food insecurity (accessibility and safety) and their effects on health. Specifically, Subproject 2 will examine those aspects of food itineraries that condition and/or determine whether the diet of older people is more or less healthy and environmentally sustainable, taking into account their diversity in terms of gender, social class, family structure and place of residence (rural/urban). The sustainability of diets, according to the 2030 Agenda SDGs, goes beyond ensuring the nutritional or biological safety of food, requiring that economic and socio-cultural aspects of food are improved in order to bring about a new food transition. In this sense, the aim is to analyse food practices that put the health of the elderly at risk when they don’t have access to safe food, in harmless conditions both nutritionally and environmentally. The project will also explore whether the absence of establishments with a diversity of affordable and healthy food in the living environment of the elderly increases these forms of food insecurity. Similarly, the aim is to analyse how the food risk and the uncertainties of PTS exposure are perceived, to the extent that the elderly are more vulnerable to possible harmful effects, compromising their chances to grow old in a healthy way. It will also examine social initiatives of citizen participation that promote healthier and more sustainable food practices, as well as alternative proposals to achieve food security alongside or independently of the agribusiness models. It will also compare how laypersons and experts perceive nutritional and environmental risks and uncertainties, looking at factors such as trust/distrust, attitudes towards and familiarity with food systems, while also exploring different forms of communicating and educating about food risks.

Research team: Cristina Larrea-Killinger (Chief Researcher), Jordi Gascón, Andrés Fontalba, Miguel Company, Maite Ojeda, Juan P. Arrébola, Araceli Muñoz, Maria Clara de Moraes Prata Gaspar, Yaiza Pérez , Ursula Verthein, Patrícia Moreira Ferreira, Claudia Juzwiak.

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