Focus of research
My research focuses on public health, in particular on the prevention of obesity and non-communicable disease (NCD's), where I apply a systems lens by studying micro-, meso- and macro-systems.
My PhD was on the feasibility and effectiveness of food pricing strategies on food purchasing behaviour (e.g., the effectiveness of a sugar tax, fruit and vegetable, subsidy, etc.). I conducted several randomized controlled trials testing different food pricing strategies, both in real Dutch supermarkets and in a 3-D Virtual Supermarket that I developed during my PhD. After completing my PhD, I worked for 6 years as a researcher at the University of Auckland (NZ), where I applied a whole-of-food systems approach to public health nutrition research. I did this, for example, by linking public health nutrition and climate change and by studying food value chains to identify intervention opportunities for public health. I believe that it is crucial for public health researchers to gain a good understanding of the food system (how does it operate) to be able to find ways to improve it and make it healthier.
At the AMC, I work in the department of Public Health as a postdoc and senior project-coordinator of the LIKE (Lifestyle Innovations based on youths’ Knowledge and Experience) project (lead by Prof Karien Stronks). LIKE aims to develop an innovative, accessible and sustainable approach to promote healthy habits in 10-14 years olds in multi-ethnic lower SE-groups in the Netherlands (specifically Amsterdam-East). More specifically, we will develop, implement and evaluate innovative interventions at the level of family, school, neighbourhood and city, as an integrated programme, based upon a detailed insight into the characteristics of the population at stake. Scientific innovation of strategies will go hand in hand with their implementation, evaluation and dissemination. To achieve this, children and key stakeholders will, as co-creators, actively participate in the development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of these interventions. To achieve this, we will use a combination of methods including Participatory Action Research (PAR); Complex Systems Science; and Intervention Mapping. My role is to develop the evaluation framework for LIKE and to co-ordinate the LIKE research consortium.