top of page

ADOPTED: Investigating the impact of food vouchers on diet composition and the prevention of childhood obesity

Principal Investigator: Grace Grove

Start Date: 10 May 2021

End Date: 9 May 2023


Childhood obesity is increasing in the UK, and children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to live with obesity. Obesity in childhood is linked to obesity in adulthood and poor health outcomes. It is therefore vital that we work to prevent and reduce inequalities in childhood obesity. We know that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to have poor diets, and children who have poor diets are more likely to be obese. Therefore, improving diet quality of young families may contribute to preventing the development of childhood obesity.


Healthy Start is a scheme in England that aims to improve diet quality by providing vouchers to spend on milk, fruit and vegetables to disadvantaged families. However, the voucher value is modest and has not changed for a decade, despite increasing food prices. The scheme needs assessing to consider how it can best support families, as uptake among eligible families is very low, at 54% nationally.

Health visitors support young families, and give extra support to those with increased needs, including those from deprived groups. This provides a unique opportunity to support young families who are at risk of childhood obesity and eligible for Healthy Start. The aim of this research is to understand if voucher schemes can have a positive effect on diet quality of disadvantaged families.


This research will contain several elements, including reviewing the literature for evidence on the effectiveness of voucher schemes, speaking to families and health visitors, collecting diet and shopping information from families, and modelling the best approach to a modified Healthy Start scheme.

bottom of page