Dr Nienke De Vlieger

Dr Nienke De Vlieger

Postdoctoral Researcher

School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Career Summary

Biography

Dr Nienke de Vlieger started her academic career with a Bachelor in Social Sciences, aiming to continue in the field of psychology. However, her career path shifted when she became drawn to the field of nutrition and completed a Master degree in Nutrition & Health at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. After a successful internship at the University of Newcastle, it was not long until she came back Down Under to commence a PhD in Nutrition. However, she never lost her interest in behavioural psychology throughout her career. In her work now, she aims to combine these two different fields as she believes they complement each other well:   

“Healthy eating and human psychology cannot be considered separately; they complement each other, and one cannot be without the other”

Especially concerning health interventions, Dr de Vlieger believes that there is much to gain with integrating some behavioural psychology and particularly subconscious processes.

Dr de Vlieger on her current project: “The subconscious mind has much more power over our behaviour than some people think. Something you don’t even realise you saw, smelled or heard, can potentially affect whether you chose the healthy food option over the unhealthy one. Or, as many marketing companies know, visa versa.”   

The new UON course called ‘Food Marketing and Consumer Behaviour’, partly developed and taught by Dr de Vlieger, highlights again how psychology and consumption are interlinked, and in this case how advertising is used to apply all we know about this on our conscious, and subconscious, minds.

“It would be great if we can use similar marketing strategies that are often used for promoting unhealthy foods, to rather promote healthy foods.”

“Unfortunately,” Dr Nienke says, “we are not at that stage yet. And that’s why I think educating people about healthy foods and the clever advertising that is often used, is probably equally important.”

Dr de Vlieger’s PhD project aimed to explore the status of nutrition education in primary schools, how teachers and students feel about it and what we can do to improve it. She collaborated in a multidisciplinary team to develop a novel educational game that can be used to teach children about nutrition.

She says: “We know teachers already have a heavy workload, so this game could be used in primary school classrooms as an easy and accessible tool for teachers. But education about nutrition should start at a young age, when they are forming eating habits that will stick with them into adulthood. They need to be able to recognise nutritious choices over other unhealthier options, and how to decide this based on information, rather than smart advertising.”

“With these skills, we can hopefully do our bit for creating a healthier generation.” 


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Master of Science, University of Wageningen

Keywords

  • Food marketing
  • childhood obesity
  • consumer behaviour
  • cross-curricular education
  • digital eating environment
  • digital nudging
  • nudging
  • nutrition
  • nutrition education
  • portion size estimation
  • prevention
  • primary school
  • serious games

Languages

  • Dutch (Mother)
  • English (Fluent)

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/6/2016 - 26/2/2021 Research Assistant School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle
Australia

Awards

Award

Year Award
2020 Higher Education Best Abstract Award
Society of Nutrition Education and Behaviour
2018 PRC Physical Activity and Nutrition 2018 Innovation Award category Interdisciplinary Team
PRCPAN

Teaching

Code Course Role Duration
FSHN3070 Functional Foods and Health Claims
School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, The university of Newcastle, Australia
Lecturer, tutor and marker 1/2/2020 - 12/6/2020
FSHN2060 Food Marketing and Consumer Behaviour
School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, The university of Newcastle, Australia
Lecturer, tutor and marker 20/7/2020 - 27/11/2020
FSHN3070 Functional Foods and Health Claims
School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, The university of Newcastle, Australia
Lecturer, tutor and marker 1/2/2019 - 21/6/2019
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (10 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 de Vlieger N, van Rossum J, Riley N, Miller A, Collins C, Bucher T, 'Nutrition Education in the Australian New South Wales Primary School Curriculum: Knowledge and Attitudes of Students and Parents.', Children, 7 (2020) [C1]
DOI 10.3390/children7040024
Citations Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Andrew Miller, Tamara Bucher, Clare Collins, Nicholas Riley
2020 de Vlieger NM, Weltert M, Molenaar A, McCaffrey TA, Rollo ME, Truby H, et al., 'A systematic review of recall errors associated with portion size estimation aids in children', Appetite, 147 (2020) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104522
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 2
Co-authors Matthias Weltert, Clare Collins, Megan Rollo, Tamara Bucher
2019 de Vlieger N, Riley N, Miller A, Collins CE, Bucher T, 'Nutrition education in the Australian New South Wales primary school curriculum: An exploration of time allocation, translation and attitudes in a sample of teachers', Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 30 94-101 (2019) [C1]

Issue addressed: The dietary intakes of Australian children are not optimal, with few meeting recommended vegetable and fruit intake targets. Nutrition education in childhood is i... [more]

Issue addressed: The dietary intakes of Australian children are not optimal, with few meeting recommended vegetable and fruit intake targets. Nutrition education in childhood is important for developing healthy eating patterns, with schools an ideal setting for a wide reach. The aims of this study were to examine nutrition education within the NSW primary school syllabus, explore how much time teachers spend teaching nutrition, what is taught, what materials are used, and to identify attitudes towards nutrition education. Method: An online survey consisting of 29 closed questions (with options for comments) was specifically developed for the purpose of this study. Teachers currently teaching at a NSW primary school were eligible to participate. Results: A total of 33 NSW primary school teachers completed the survey. Results indicate that limited time is spent on teaching nutrition with some important nutrition education components currently missed, resources perceived to be inadequate and lack of time reported as the largest barrier to teaching nutrition. Conclusion: In order to improve the quality of nutrition education in NSW primary schools, several important topics need to be integrated into the curriculum, and time constraints of teachers should be taken into account. So what?: Findings from the current survey will inform the development of future nutrition education programs and resources with the aim of integrating nutrition education within the primary school curriculum.

DOI 10.1002/hpja.188
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 4
Co-authors Andrew Miller, Nicholas Riley, Tamara Bucher, Clare Collins
2018 Williams A, de Vlieger N, Young M, Jensen ME, Burrows TL, Morgan PJ, Collins CE, 'Dietary outcomes of overweight fathers and their children in the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids community randomised controlled trial', Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 31 523-532 (2018) [C1]
DOI 10.1111/jhn.12543
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 5
Co-authors Myles Young, Philip Morgan, Clare Collins, Tracy Burrows, Megan Jensen
2018 Brown HM, Rollo ME, de Vlieger NM, Collins CE, Bucher T, 'Influence of the nutrition and health information presented on food labels on portion size consumed: a systematic review.', Nutrition reviews, 76 655-677 (2018) [C1]
DOI 10.1093/nutrit/nuy019
Citations Scopus - 11Web of Science - 12
Co-authors Hannah Brown, Megan Rollo, Tamara Bucher, Clare Collins
2017 Brown HM, De Vlieger N, Collins C, Bucher T, 'The influence of front-of-pack nutrition information on consumers' portion size perceptions', Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 28 144-147 (2017) [C1]

Issue addressed Portion size guidance strategies have been suggested as an important component of weight management; therefore, the Health Star Rating (HSR) front-of-pack labels c... [more]

Issue addressed Portion size guidance strategies have been suggested as an important component of weight management; therefore, the Health Star Rating (HSR) front-of-pack labels could influence consumers' portion-size decisions. However, this has not been investigated to date. This study aims to evaluate whether presenting energy content information and HSRs influences portion size self-selection of specific foods and meals. Methods Adults were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups in this randomised controlled experiment. Each participant was given either a kJ/100g food label or a HSR label, or was given no information on nutrient composition. They were then asked to serve themselves an adequate portion of breakfast cereal (Kellogg's Nutri-Grain), fruit salad and chocolate, plus a three-component meal (chicken, fries and mixed vegetables). Portion serves and meal weights were compared between each experimental group using ANOVA and the discretionary foods were also compared with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE). Results Neither the kilojoule nor HSR information influenced the self-served portion size of foods or meal components. Mean self-served portion size of the discretionary foods were significantly greater than the standard serving sizes as specified in the AGHE. Conclusion Although food labels have the potential to assist consumers in making product choices, this study indicates that presenting nutrition information does not affect portion size decisions in young adults. So what? Strategies that assist consumers to choose appropriate portion sizes should be developed as a weight management tool.

DOI 10.1071/HE16011
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 4
Co-authors Clare Collins, Hannah Brown, Tamara Bucher
2017 De Vlieger NM, Collins C, Bucher T, 'What is a nutritious snack? Level of processing and macronutrient content influences young adults' perceptions', Appetite, 114 55-63 (2017) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.appet.2017.03.021
Citations Scopus - 11Web of Science - 12
Co-authors Clare Collins, Tamara Bucher
2017 van der Bend D, Bucher T, Schumacher TL, Collins K, de Vlieger N, Rollo M, et al., 'Trends in Food and Beverage Portion Sizes in Australian Children; a Time-Series Analysis Comparing 2007 and 2011-2012 National Data', Children, 4 1-9 (2017) [C1]
DOI 10.3390/children4080069
Citations Web of Science - 8
Co-authors Clare Collins, Megan Rollo, Tamara Bucher, Tracy Schumacher, Tracy Burrows
2016 Bucher T, Collins C, Rollo ME, McCaffrey TA, De Vlieger N, Van Der Bend D, et al., 'Nudging consumers towards healthier choices: A systematic review of positional influences on food choice', British Journal of Nutrition, 115 2252-2263 (2016) [C1]

Nudging or 'choice architecture' refers to strategic changes in the environment that are anticipated to alter people's behaviour in a predictable way, without forbi... [more]

Nudging or 'choice architecture' refers to strategic changes in the environment that are anticipated to alter people's behaviour in a predictable way, without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. Nudging strategies may be used to promote healthy eating behaviour. However, to date, the scientific evidence has not been systematically reviewed to enable practitioners and policymakers to implement, or argue for the implementation of, specific measures to support nudging strategies. This systematic review investigated the effect of positional changes of food placement on food choice. In total, seven scientific databases were searched using relevant keywords to identify interventions that manipulated food position (proximity or order) to generate a change in food selection, sales or consumption, among normal-weight or overweight individuals across any age group. From 2576 identified articles, fifteen articles comprising eighteen studies met our inclusion criteria. This review has identified that manipulation of food product order or proximity can influence food choice. Such approaches offer promise in terms of impacting on consumer behaviour. However, there is a need for high-quality studies that quantify the magnitude of positional effects on food choice in conjunction with measuring the impact on food intake, particularly in the longer term. Future studies should use outcome measures such as change in grams of food consumed or energy intake to quantify the impact on dietary intake and potential impacts on nutrition-related health. Research is also needed to evaluate potential compensatory behaviours secondary to such interventions.

DOI 10.1017/S0007114516001653
Citations Scopus - 163Web of Science - 147
Co-authors Megan Rollo, Tamara Bucher, Clare Collins
2015 Bucher T, de Vlieger N, Brown H, Collins C, 'Do energy labels influence served portion sizes and meal composition?', ANNALS OF NUTRITION AND METABOLISM, 67 147-147 (2015)
Citations Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Clare Collins, Tamara Bucher
Show 7 more journal articles

Conference (7 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 De Vlieger N, Sainsbury L, Smith S, Riley N, Miller A, Collins C, Bucher T, 'Development and Preliminary Testing of VitaVillage: A Serious Game Used for Nutrition Education', O30 Development and Preliminary Testing of VitaVillage: A Serious Game Used for Nutrition Education, SNEB.org (2020)
DOI 10.1016/j.jneb.2020.04.042
Co-authors Shamus Smith, Clare Collins, Andrew Miller, Tamara Bucher
2020 De Vlieger N, Riley N, Miller A, Collins C, Bucher T, 'Development and Reliability Testing of a Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire for Australian Children (CNK-AU)', SNEB.org (2020)
Co-authors Clare Collins, Nicholas Riley, Andrew Miller, Tamara Bucher
2017 de Vlieger N, Bucher T, Rollo M, molenaar A, mccaffrey T, 'A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE PORTION SIZE RECALL ERRORS ASSOCIATED WITH DIFFERENT MEASUREMENT AIDS IN CHILDREN', A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE PORTION SIZE RECALL ERRORS ASSOCIATED WITH DIFFERENT MEASUREMENT AIDS IN CHILDREN, Victoria, Canada (2017)
Co-authors Tamara Bucher, Megan Rollo
2017 de Vlieger N, Bucher T, Collins C, 'ARE YOUNG ADULTS PERCEPTIONS OF HOW NUTRITIOUS SNACKS ARE INFLUENCED BY THE NUTRIENT CONTENT OR PORTION SIZE?', Abstract book for the ISBNPA 2017 Annual Meeting in Victoria, BC, Canada, Victoria (2017)
Co-authors Clare Collins, Tamara Bucher
2016 Bucher T, Collins C, Rollo M, McCaffrey T, de Vlieger N, Van Der Bend D, et al., 'Nudging the food environment towards healthier choices: A systematic review of positional influences on food choice', Cape Town, South Africa (2016)
Co-authors Clare Collins, Megan Rollo, Tamara Bucher
2015 Bucher T, Brown H, de Vlieger N, Collins C, 'Do Front Of Pack Labels Influence Portion Size Decisions?', Berlin, Germany (2015)
Co-authors Hannah Brown, Clare Collins, Tamara Bucher
2015 Bucher T, Brown H, de Vlieger N, Collins C, 'Do Front Of Pack Labels Influence Portion Size Decisions?', Brisbane, Australia (2015)
Co-authors Clare Collins, Hannah Brown, Tamara Bucher
Show 4 more conferences

Other (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 de Vlieger N, Bucher T, Collins C, 'ARE YOUNG ADULTS PERCEPTIONS OF HOW NUTRITIOUS SNACKS ARE INFLUENCED BY THE NUTRIENT CONTENT OR PORTION SIZE?', (2017) [O1]
Co-authors Clare Collins, Tamara Bucher
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current1

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2021 PhD Understanding the Impact of Nature Imagery within Digital Food Choice Environments PhD (Food Science), College of Engineering, Science and Environment, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Dr Nienke De Vlieger

Positions

Postdoctoral Researcher
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
College of Engineering, Science and Environment

Casual Research Assistant
School of Education
College of Human and Social Futures

Casual Research Assistant
School of Health Sciences
College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing

Contact Details

Email nienke.devlieger@newcastle.edu.au
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