Citation: Chang KB, Wooden A, Rosman L, Altema-Johnson D and Ramsing R (2023) Strategies for reducing meat consumption within college and university settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 7:1103060. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2023.1103060 (open access)
- Introduction: Despite the considerable public and planetary health benefits associated with reducing the amount of meat consumed in high-income countries, there is a limited empirical understanding of how these voluntary changes in food choice can be effectively facilitated across different settings. While prior reviews have given us broad insights into the varying capacities of behavior change strategies to promote meaningful reductions in meat consumption, none have compared how they perform relative to each other within a uniform dining context.
- Methods: To address this gap in the literature, we synthesized the available research on university-implemented meat reduction interventions and examined the variations in the success rates and effect estimates associated with each of the three approaches identified in our systematic review.
- Results: From our analyses of the 31 studies that met our criteria for inclusion (n = 31), we found that most were successful in reducing the amount of meat consumed within university settings. Moreover, independent of the number of individual strategies being used, multimodal interventions were found to be more reliable and effective in facilitating these changes in food choice than interventions targeting the choice architecture of the retail environment or conscious decision-making processes alone.
- Discussion: In addition to demonstrating the overall value of behavior change initiatives in advancing more sustainable dining practices on college and university campuses, this study lends further insights into the merits and mechanics underlying strategically integrated approaches to dietary change. Further investigations exploring the persistence and generalizability of these effects and intervention design principles are needed.
3.4.1. Success rate variations
Over two-thirds of the included interventions were associated with significant reductions in meat consumption (67.7%). The remaining interventions yielded no differences in behavior (32.3%), with none of the included studies reporting any increases in meat consumption resulting from negative reactance or rebound effects.
Between the three investigated approaches, multimodal interventions were significantly more likely to be associated with reductions in meat consumption than those targeting conscious decision-making processes or the choice architecture of the retail environment alone (p = 0.029) (see Figure 4). There was no difference in the rate of success across interventions targeting the choice architecture of the retail environment and conscious decision-making process.
Interventions using at least two strategies concurrently were also more likely to be associated with reductions in meat consumption than interventions using a single strategy in isolation (p = 0.024), though both sets of interventions significantly reduced the amount of meat consumed within university settings on at least half of the evaluated occasions. Interventions that used promotional messaging strategies, in particular, were successful 57.1% of the time when used in isolation and 76.0% of the time when used in combination with other strategies (p = 0.029).
When comparing the performance between multimodal interventions and unimodal interventions leveraging two or more strategies, multimodal interventions were associated with a higher rate of success (100%, compared to 50.0%) and a greater overall effect on food choice (OR = 2.88 [1.95, 4.64]), compared to (OR = 2.13 [1.64, 3.05]).
There were no significant differences in the success rates associated with interventions conducted in Europe and North America (p = 0.28).
*Correspondence: Kenjin B. Chang, email@example.com
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