The 2008 recession and subsequent austerity measures have had wide-ranging impacts on industries, communities, and individuals. The recession impacted global economies, lowering GDP and increasing unemployment. Several countries adopted austerity measures as a response to debts accrued during the recession. The UK government’s austerity policies led to changes in public sector expenditure and welfare reform, which may have impacted large segments of populations in the UK through reductions in resources and services. These changes occurred at a time of food environment change, including increases in food prices. Austerity measures coincided with an increase in the use of foodbanks.
This project aims to evaluate how the recession and changes to public sector spending have impacted nutritional intakes and health outcomes and if this varies between local areas in England. This project will do this by conducting two systematic reviews and undertaking quantitative data analysis to investigate the impacts of changes to public sector spending on diets and health. The systematic reviews will synthesise research on the impact of the recession on diets and of austerity measures on food insecurity respectively. The quantitative work will use pre-existing, non-identifiable datasets. This project has input from a public expert panel to help develop the research, including discussing findings and catalysing impact, input regarding exposure and outcome variables, interpretation of findings and developing dissemination plans. Findings will be disseminated via publication in scientific journals and disseminated to public health practitioners and the public using methods such as lay language summaries and blogs.