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.

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.

Image: Pxhere, Smartphone hand, CC0 Public Domain
2 December 2019

This paper analyses the Twitter reactions to the diet proposed by the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, focusing on the #yes2meat hashtag as well as the official #EATLancet hashtag. The study found a sizable countermovement that was sceptical of the EAT-Lancet dietary recommendations, with the #yes2meat term becoming prominent around one week before the EAT-Lancet report was launched.

Image: National Institutes of Health, Fruit, Vegetables and Grain, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
25 November 2019

This paper reviews current dietary patterns and trends, examines their links with health, the environment and equity, and suggests how governments, industry and consumers can help to shift diets towards patterns that are beneficial to both people and the environment.

19 November 2019

This book, edited by Mark Lawrence and Sharon Friel, sets out ideas on health, sustainability and equity in food systems, discusses the current state of the food system and suggests how policymakers and practitioners can create healthy and sustainable food systems.

Image: kin kate, Pizza, Public Domain Pictures, Public domain
11 November 2019

This paper sets out a definition of so-called hyper-palatable foods (HPF), i.e. foods designed to contain combinations of fat, sugar, carbohydrates, and/or sodium at levels that make it likely that people will continue eating these foods for longer (compared to other foods where they stop eating sooner through the mechanism of sensory‐specific satiety).

4 November 2019

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have published this set of guiding principles for sustainable healthy diets, aimed at policymakers.

4 November 2019

The Food Research Collaboration has produced an evidence review and guidance note on the role that convenience stores can play in shaping diets in the UK - specifically, how convenience store operators can be persuaded to offer more healthy food options. 

Image: Martin Vorel, Girl with ice cream, Libreshot, Public domain
4 November 2019

Children in New York City who live less than 0.025 miles (about half a city block) from a fast-food outlet are more likely to be obese or overweight than children who live further away, according to this paper. The probability of a child being overweight was up to 4.4% lower and the probability of obesity was up to 2.9% lower for children who lived further away, relative to those who lived closest to fast-food outlets. The study used over 3.5 million data points (measurements of body mass index) from the New York City public school system between 2009 and 2013. 

Image: Ella Olsson, Variety of vegetables, Pexels, Pexels Licence
4 November 2019

This paper from researchers at Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) project considers the health and environmental impacts of consuming an extra portion per day of 15 different foods. For many of the foods, those with beneficial health impacts also have lower environmental impacts, while many of those with greater environmental impacts also have greater disease risk.

29 October 2019

According to this report from UK charity the Pesticide Action Network and the Soil Association, mixtures of pesticides can be more harmful to human health than the sum of the toxicity of the individual pesticides would suggest. 

9 October 2019

This book examines how people can be exposed to arsenic through drinking water and different types of food in several areas of the world, and sets out some strategies to reduce arsenic accumulation in rice.

Image: focusonpc, Carne cibo, Pixabay, Pixabay License
8 October 2019

A series of review papers on the health effects of consumption of red and processed meat has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Based on the reviews, the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium (an independent group including several of the authors of the review papers; members of the panel had no “financial or intellectual” conflicts of interest during the past three years) recommends that adults should continue to eat current levels of both red meat and processed meat.

Image: Pxhere, Bacon breakfast closeup, CC0 Public Domain
18 September 2019

This paper quantifies the carbon emissions, water use and land use associated with the consumption of food excess to requirements, on the basis that overnutrition has sometimes been classified as a form of food waste. It finds high geographical variation in the environmental impacts of so-called excess food consumption, with impacts being an order of magnitude greater in Europe, North America and Oceania than in sub-Saharan Africa.

Image: Marco Verch, Close Up on the Red and Green Apples, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
9 July 2019

This narrative review paper explores how understanding of nutrition and public health have changed over time, influenced by developments in science, social changes and policy-making. The paper identifies some major paradigm shifts, such as the identification of vitamins in the early 20th century, and the recognition of the link between dietary patterns and some chronic diseases in the late 20th century.

Image: Rawpixel.com, Bubble caffeine carbonated drink, Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain
3 July 2019

This systematic review of taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) finds that the taxes are associated with a decrease in the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages that are bought and consumed. A 10% tax lead to a 10% decrease in purchase and intake levels, on average, although there was considerable variation between results in different locations.

Image: Max Pixel, Red Tomato Horizontal, CC0 Public Domain
25 June 2019

This paper sets out a new method to account for nutrition in the functional unit of life cycle assessments of single foods. The method accounts for the wider dietary context of each food type, which is found to affect the results relative to using either mass as a functional unit, or another nutrient-based functional unit that does not consider the dietary context.

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