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Professorship of Public Health Nutrition – Junior Professor Laura M. König

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Eating is an ordinary but highly complex behaviour that may seriously impact health and well-being. The aims of our research are to understand the determinants of human eating behaviour, its physical and psychological consequences, and ultimately to develop effective interventions that can be applied at a population level.

To achieve these aims we employ a range of methods and study designs. We are currently establishing a Behaviour Research Facility at Campus Kulmbach. We also collaborate with researchers from various fields. If you would like to join the team or collaborate please get in touch.

Research areas

Influences of the physical environment (choice architecture/ “nudging”)Hide

Interventions targeting the environment in which food choices are made can be implemented in many public areas, e.g., supermarkets, canteens, to change human eating behaviour at a population level. However, research is still scarce on the effectivity of these interventions and their underlying psychological mechanisms. We investigate these questions using a combination of laboratory and field studies.

Example publications:

  • Kosīte, D., König, L. M., De-Loyde, K., Lee, I., Pechey, E., Clarke, N., Maynard, O., Morris, R., Munafò, M., Marteau, T. M., & Hollands, G. J. (2019). Plate size and food consumption: a pre-registered experimental study in a general population sample. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 16, 75. doi: doi.org/10.1186/s12966-019-0826-1
  • König, L. M., Giese, H., Schupp, H., & Renner, B. (2016). The environment makes a difference: The impact of explicit and implicit attitudes as precursors in different food choice tasks. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(1301). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01301
Digital health promotionHide

Digital interventions such as health apps or wearables have the potential to reach a large number of people because smartphone ownership is common. However, use rates of digital interventions are currently low. We explore which factors hinder or promote the uptake of these interventions, and develop new interventions to reach a larger number of people.

Example publications:

  • König, L. M., & Renner, B. (2019). Boosting healthy food choices by meal colour variety: Results from two experiments and a just-in-time Ecological Momentary Intervention. BMC Public Health, 19, 975. doi: 10.1186/s12889-019-7306-z
  • König, L. M., Sproesser, G., Schupp, H. T., & Renner, B. (2018). Describing the Process of Adopting Nutrition and Fitness Apps: Behavior Stage Model Approach. JMIR mHealth & uHealth, 6(3), e55. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.8261

Current projects:

  • To use or not to use? Motivations and barriers to using digital technologies for health promotion (with Christiane Attig, M.Sc., Chemnitz University of Technology). Project page on the Open Science Framework. Funded by the German Psychological Society.
  • Is there a digital divide? A systematic review of mobile interventions for diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour (with Dorothy Szinay, M.Sc., UAE; Dr. Heide Busse, Leibniz-Institute of Prevention Research and Epidemiology; Dr. Ann DeSmet, Université Libre de Bruxelles; Dr. Dynthia C Forbes, University of Hull; Dr. Eline S. Smit, University of Amsterdam). Pre-registration on PROSPERO.
  • Synthesizing evidence on a digital divide in mobile interventions targeting weight-related behaviours: A systematic review of observational studies (with Dorothy Szinay, M.Sc., UAE; Dr. Heide Busse, Leibniz-Institute of Prevention Research and Epidemiology; Dr. Ann DeSmet, Université Libre de Bruxelles; Dr. Dynthia C Forbes, University of Hull; Dr. Eline S. Smit, University of Amsterdam). Funded by the European Health Psychology Society. Pre-registered on PROSPERO.
  • Improving self-monitoring feedback on eating behaviour. Collaboration with Professor Rebecca Krukowski, University of Virginia, funded by the Bayreuth Humboldt Centre. This project includes a systematic review that is pre-registered on PROSPERO.
Digital measurement of behaviourHide

Digital technologies (e.g., apps, activity trackers) have become popular in research to collect behavioural data in real life and in real-time. However, little is currently known about data quality especially regarding digital dietary assessments. We study selective reporting and research participation effects (e.g., measurement reactivity) in digital measurement of behaviour to improve data quality and ultimately increase the validity of Ecological Momentary Assessment data.

Example publications:

  • Ziesemer, K., König, L. M., Boushey, C. J., Villinger, K., Wahl, D., Butscher, S., Müller, J., Reiterer, H., Schupp, H. T., & Renner, B.(2020). Occurrence of and reasons for “missing events” in mobile dietary assessments:  Results from three event-based EMA studies. JMIR mHealth & uHealth, 8(10), e15430.
  • König, L. M., Van Emmenis, M., Nurmi, J., Kassavou, K., & Sutton, S. (2021). Characteristics of smartphone-based dietary assessment tools: A systematic review. Health Psychology Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/17437199.2021.2016066
  • König, L. M., Allmeta, A., Christlein, N., Van Emmenis, M., & Sutton, S. (2022). A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of reactivity to digital in-the-moment measurement of health behaviour. Health Psychology Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/17437199.2022.2047096

Current projects:

Recent talks:

  • König, L. M. (2020). Ecological Momentary Assessment of eating behaviour. Workshop "Challenges and opportunities of Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) for health behaviour research", EHPS Scientific Online Meeting. https://osf.io/8kq67/
Nutrition and science communicationHide

Communication about science, including health, behavioural, and nutritional sciences, have become ubiquitous. Especially social media is often used to discuss scientific topics outside the scientific community. We are studying which forms of social media are especially effective to communicate science, and identify strategies for more effective science communication.

Current projects:

  • Comparing the effectiveness of videos, podcasts and online texts in nutrition communication (with Katharina Weiß)
  • Debunking nutrition myths: An experimental test of truth sandwiches

Example publications:

  • Weiß, K., & König, L. M. (2022, 22 February). Does the medium matter? Comparing the effectiveness of videos, podcasts, and online articles in nutrition communication. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/db5qa

Interdisciplinary collaboration

Our work is highly interdisciplinary. We contribute our expertise in psychology, behavioural science and measurement to the following projects:

Regulating Food Innovation - Technical innovation requires regulatory innovation (funded by the German Research Foundation/ DFG and the OberfrankenstiftungHide

This is an interdisciplinary research project spanning legal studies, biotechnology and behavoural sciences led by Prof. Kai Purnhagen (Chair for Food Law, University of Bayreuth). We are involved in the following work packages:

  • Risk triggers for food innovation regulation in the EU legal framework
  • Implementing biology and law: The need for tangible scientific criteria for the regulation of innovation

Visit the project website for more information.

Fresh and aromatic - Does vertical farming keep its promise?Hide

Together with food chemist Prof. Susanne Baldermann (Chair for Food Metabolome, University of Bayreuth), we received funding from the Simon-Nüssel-Stiftung to test the correspondence between consumer perception and chemical components of conventially grown herbs and herbs grown in vertical farming.

Webmaster: Prof. Dr. Laura M. König

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