Everyone Has a Role in Supporting Healthy Eating Patterns

Everyone Has a Role in Supporting Healthy Eating Patterns

The Social-Ecological Model

In this section:

Social and Cultural Norms and Values
Individual Factors

Consistent evidence shows that implementing multiple changes at various levels of the Social-Ecological Model is effective in improving eating and physical activity behaviors. For example, strong evidence from studies with varying designs and generally consistent findings demonstrates that school policies designed to enhance the school food setting leads to improvements in the purchasing behavior of children, resulting in higher dietary quality of the food consumed during the school day. For adults, moderate evidence indicates that worksite nutrition policies can improve dietary intake, and approaches targeting dietary intake and physical activity can favorably affect weight-related outcomes. These examples demonstrate how support and active engagement from various segments of society are needed to help individuals change their eating and physical activity behaviors and achieve positive outcomes. Approaches like these have the potential to improve population health if they can be incorporated into existing organizational structures and maintained over time. Among the components of the Social-Ecological Model, sectors and settings influence change at the population level and are addressed first in this discussion.

The Social-Ecological Model can help health professionals understand how layers of influence intersect to shape a person's food and physical activity choices. The model below shows how various factors influence food and beverage intake, physical activity patterns, and ultimately health outcomes.