Tarra is a Research Associate with the Food Systems and Public Health programme led by Prof Martin White. She is supporting the system level evaluation of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, a nation-wide policy to reduce sugar in soft drinks by targeting importers and manufacturers. This evaluation serves as the first study grounded in a ‘systems approach’ to evaluate whether, how and in whom the levy has an effect on health. Additionally, the evaluation will examine the process by which the tax came about, as well as a wider change in political, societal and industry attitudes.
The aim of Tarra’s research is to improve the prevention of obesity and chronic disease by studying the effects of food system change on population level diet and health. As changes within the food system (i.e. intervention strategies) often occur outside of the domain of public health and within a wider social, economic, organisational and political context, she is interested in exploring the utility of holistic rather than reductionist approaches to understand how these interventions work or why they fail.
Tarra has particular experience in cross-sectional and longitudinal quantitative data analysis using the National Diet and Nutrition Survey and the UK Household Longitudinal Survey (i.e. Understanding Society) respectively to examine environmental influences and usage of the out of home food sector on diet and weight. In addition she has experience in developing theories of change using the tacit knowledge of academic and non-academic stakeholders, undertaking qualitative studies using interviews and focus groups with multi-sectoral members, conducting realist and systematic reviews and synthesis, and developing creative ways to engage the public around the structural barriers to healthy eating.