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Aberdeen residents to give RGU researchers food for thought


Is it important who you eat with? Does it matter where you shop and what you eat? Is online food shopping and home delivery good for you?

RGU lecturer Chris Yuill is leading the study.These are just some of the questions researchers from Robert Gordon University (RGU) aim to answer through a new study to establish Aberdeen residents’ attitudes towards food.

The ‘Food and the City’ research, led by sociology lecturer Chris Yuill from the university’s School of Applied Social Studies, will initially focus on RGU’s neighbouring communities of Garthdee and Cults.

The project has received a significant contribution towards funding from north-east charity The MacRobert Trust which has backed worthy causes and projects since its creation, through the amalgamation of several trusts, in 2001.

Supported by researcher Sophie Spencer, the research team also includes Dr Giovanna Bermano and Dr Arthur Stewart from RGU’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing Research (IHWR).

The experienced, multi-disciplinary team is looking for 25-40 year olds, who don’t have children, to participate in the study which starts this week.

Mr Yuill’s team will look at resident’s relationship between city living and food, their food choices, where they shop and what they buy, and who they eat with.

He said: “Identifying key themes in the relationship between living in the city and attitudes towards eating and food shopping will increase our understanding of these key aspects of living.

“The results from this original study will have a number of positive applications for Aberdeen and will be of national significance when it comes to approaches to food in city settings.”

The research seeks to build an all-round social and biological profile of each participant involving an interview, a 3D body scan and blood sample at the university’s Garthdee campus.

Research with the Garthdee and Cults communities is the first part of a broader study as the team hope to extend their research model across the city and eventually cover other areas in Scotland and the UK.

Mr Yuill and the team also hope to assess the impact the placement of shops has on communities as well as how convenience shopping and delivery and working patterns can affect eating and shopping routines.

He said: “We will also look at the impact of working hours on people’s eating patterns. Employers may need to consider how shifts and working nights affect the choices people make when it comes to food and eating times.

“The siting of eating centres, including restaurants, cafes and supermarkets is also important for community interaction. Before large supermarkets and home delivery emerged, shoppers had to visit more shops for the foods they wanted.

“This made it a more social activity where people met their friends and neighbours and had a chance to catch up with them. That seems to be happening less today which suggests that convenience may not always be good for us and works against social interaction and inclusion.”

For more information about RGU’s ‘Food and the City’ study, and to participate, please contact Sophie Spencer via email: s.r.spencer@rgu.ac.uk or phone (01224) 263379.

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Ross AndersonCommunications Officer | Health and Sport