Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Health issues

Food provides the nutrients we need for effective metabolic functioning. Malnutrition in all its forms is common across the globe and causes many serious health issues from conception and throughout the life course. Some 800 million people still go to bed hungry today, while around 2 billion people are now overweight or obese  these include poor people and increasingly citizens of low and middle income countries – and their numbers are growing. Overlapping with these numbers around 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, which cause physical and cognitive problems. Poor diets rich in processed foods and animal products and low in fruit and vegetables are now the main cause of premature deaths worldwide, implicated in diseases such as obesity, strokes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. In addition, our nutrition and broader health status also influence our susceptibility to infectious diseases. Diet-related health outcomes are shaped by multiple social, economic, cultural and political factors and these influences on food consumption interact with other factors (from environmental through to genetic) to influence health.

31 March 2020

This blog post from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition sets out the impacts that COVID-19 is likely to have on the food system in both low- and high-income contexts, including impacts on health, livelihoods and the cost of food transport. It also suggests how the food system can be strengthened to mitigate these challenges. See this table (PDF link) for a summary.

31 March 2020

This blog post from the UK’s Food Ethics Council explores some of the ethical complexities in the food system’s response to COVID-19. It notes that many people are displaying compassion and supporting neighbours during the pandemic. It also argues that other ongoing crises, including climate, nature loss, health and the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal negotiations, must not be neglected.

31 March 2020

This article in the Guardian explores the links between food production and COVID-19. It points out that, while the virus is likely to have been transmitted to humans via a pangolin at a “wet” market in Wuhan, China, the virus may have come to pangolins from wild bats. Some smallholder farmers, the article suggests, began to rear “wild” animals (such as pangolins) for income when their previous livestock farming was undercut economically by industrial farming methods, and may also have been pushed onto marginal land (nearer to forests, bats and the viruses hosted by bats) by industrial agriculture’s expansion.

24 March 2020

UK food waste NGO Feedback has curated a list of recommended reading on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is linked to food systems, including the origins of the pandemic and the effects it is having on food supply chains. 

19 March 2020

This piece from Foodservice Footprint draws together the information available so far (as of mid-March 2020) about how the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is affecting the UK's foodservice sector. The information covers impacts on restaurant staffing and operations, the food supply chain (one distributor told Footprint that "Everyone seems to be being relatively sensible at the moment"), new hygiene standards, and issues in supporting people at risk of hunger.

16 March 2020

This report outlines the 2019 activities of the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London. 

16 March 2020

This report from the Dutch non-profit Access to Nutrition Foundation assesses the efforts of India’s 16 largest food and beverage manufacturers to contribute to improved nutrition. It finds that current industry efforts, while growing, are not enough to meet India’s current nutritional challenges. 16% of the 1456 products assessed met criteria for being healthy, and few companies are tackling undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight across all of their business areas.

16 March 2020

This report from UK campaign group Action on Salt finds that three-fifths of plant-based restaurant meals and two-fifths of plant-based food options in fast food outlets and coffee chains contain 3 grams of salt or more - half of an adult’s daily recommended salt intake. The report argues that consumers should have access to healthier plant-based options, particularly since the public tends to perceive vegan food as healthy.

10 March 2020

This book examines the role of school gardens in addressing malnutrition among students and promoting healthy eating. It includes case studies in Nepal and the Philippines.

3 March 2020

This paper gives an overview of the potential public health impacts of dairy production and consumption across the globe. It notes that dairy production is projected to increase by a quarter between 2014 and 2025, driven by both a rising global population and increases in the amount of dairy consumed per person.

24 February 2020

This WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission examines the effects of climate change and food advertising on children’s health and likelihood of enjoying a good future. The report argues that children’s wellbeing should be placed at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

18 February 2020

This report assesses the impact of the UK non-profit Veg Power’s “Eat them to defeat them” advertising campaign, which aimed to persuade children to eat more vegetables. Children who had seen the advertising campaign were more likely to agree with statements such as “Eating vegetables is fun”, “I like vegetables” and “Vegetables can be really tasty” than those who did not see the adverts. An estimated 650,000 children ate more vegetables as a result of the campaign.

3 February 2020

This book explores why hunger is still a problem in the modern world, including case studies from Niger, Northern India, Argentina and Chicago.

3 February 2020

This book shows how stories about the food system can be framed in different ways, and how people are affected by how stories are told about them. The book focuses on food insecurity, farm labour and obesity.

3 February 2020

This report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation examines how traces of veterinary drugs can pass through the food supply chain and affect either non-target animals or people who eat contaminated meat, eggs or milk. 

7 January 2020

The Lancet and the World Health Organisation have produced a series on the double burden of malnutrition and how it affects low- and middle-income countries. The double burden of malnutrition refers to the simultaneous presence of overnutrition (e.g. overweight and obesity) and undernutrition (e.g. stunting and wasting) in a country, city, community or person. 

2 December 2019

According to this article by the New Food Economy, the United States has experienced five E. coli outbreaks in the leafy green supply chain in two years. The latest outbreak, affecting romaine lettuce, originated in Salinas, California. A task force found that a 2018 outbreak was possibly linked to the presence of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) near lettuce farms.

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