Unilever recognises that the future success of fast-moving consumer goods companies, such as its business, will be linked to the ability to achieve behaviour change for better health without depleting natural resources. This challenge presents an opportunity to reshape its business model to a model that is more aligned with health and sustainability, whilst also meeting the needs of consumers.

Changing consumer behaviour for better health is complex and requires an interplay between marketing, public health expertise and consumer and health understanding to drive long-term change. This requires a ‘whole systems approach’ in which the voices of vulnerable groups are centred, and a shared focus on delivering the health outcomes that matter to individuals, families, communities and society.

The use of shaming and triggering language can be very damaging to mental health. This is particularly the case when it is used in conjunction with public messaging on diet, weight and body shape which can lead to a negative reaction.

As a result, it is vital that any communication around diet and weight is carefully considered to avoid such triggering terminology. In addition, messages about overall improved health must be emphasised over physical attributes, such as weight or body shape, to encourage the adoption of healthier behaviours.

In light of the results of our research, we recommend that future campaigns take a more coherent, whole systems approach to promote better health. This will prevent opportunities for inconsistent or contradictory messaging that could impact on public confidence and the effectiveness of the campaign.

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