The eating habits of Scottish women will be among the first areas investigated by Dundee and St Andrews universities' latest health initiative.
The Social Dimensions of Health Institute is part of the "promoting partnership" project and brings together 50 experts from both universities to influence public health policy.
Peter Davey, director of Dundee's Health Informatics Centre, said: "Health is increasingly viewed as involving many factors - social, economic and psychological as well as physical. Scotland is the sick country of Europe, yet we have some of the best medical research."
Paul Boyle, professor of human geography at St Andrews, said: "We will be able to explore relationships between, for example, the environment, gender, social class, age, diet and health, the impact of poverty, and the costs and benefits of initiatives to improve public health."
The project looking at women's health is headed by Annie Anderson of Dundee's Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research and Alex Greene of St Andrews' department of social anthropology. It is funded by the World Cancer Research Fund.
Professor Anderson said the study would "analyse the eating habits and sociocultural customs of four groups of women, allowing us to better understand the reasoning behind dietary behaviours."
She said the results could be applied to "educating the public about maintaining or changing food choices to aid cancer prevention".