World Cancer Research Fund

Insight research amongst BAME families to encourage healthy eating

World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) planned to refresh the support it provides to children aged 4-11 and their parents and carers to help them make healthier choices about the food they eat.

In order ensure its new package of support met the needs of its audience, WCRF commissioned Fiveways to conduct insight research to understand family routines, facilitators and barriers to healthy eating and the type of intervention WCRF could deliver to make a healthy lifestyle “easy, attractive and normal” for people.

To meet this brief, Fiveways adopted a two-stage approach. Firstly, we conducted a review of existing research to avoid WCRF spending its primary research budget on confirming what is already known. This secondary research involved a review of 56 reports and papers and interviews with those with experience of implementing similar interventions. It revealed both unmet need and unanswered questions regarding the experience of certain BAME families when it comes to supporting children to eat healthily.

To fill those gaps, Fiveways conducted in-depth, ethnographic research with 24 mothers from Black African, Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani background in London, Birmingham, and Manchester. The approach involved food diaries, at home in-depth interviews (including tours of kitchens and store cupboards), accompanied supermarket shops and telephone interviews.

Our findings provided WCRF with actionable insight to develop their intervention, such as areas of “least resistance” to support families with initially – such as mothers’ desire to reduce sugary drinks, cook healthier versions of traditional meals, and plan meals more effectively.

“I would absolutely recommend Fiveways to other charities who want to understand their audiences and develop new projects. Rather than just responding to a research brief, Fiveways used their experience to work with us to create the most appropriate research questions and methods for our budget.  They provide an excellent service, communicating well and clearly presenting findings.” – Sidonie Sakula-Barry, Health Promotion Officer, World Cancer Research Fund