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.

16 May 2017

The World Obesity Federation has published its position statement recognising obesity as a disease in the journal Obesity reviews. The World Obesity Federation is an organization representing professional societies from many countries that focus on research, education and health care for people with obesity. The Federation has commissioned this statement to argue for the position that ‘Obesity is a chronic relapsing disease process’ and to serve as the basis for their position on this issue.

Photo: Oliver Hallmann, Steak, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
16 May 2017

In this editorial in the medical journal BMJ, professor of epidemiology John D. Potter discusses the mounting evidence that our current levels meat consumption harms human health and is equally bad for the planet.

Photo: natalienicolecrane, fishing at lake victoria, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
8 May 2017

A common hypothesis used to link declining human health to environmental outcomes predicts that illness will reduce human populations or harvest effort, thus benefitting the environment. When investigating the behaviour of fishers around Lake Victoria in Kenya, this research found little evidence that illness reduced fishing effort to indirectly benefit the environment. Instead, ill fishers shifted their fishing methods – using more illegal methods concentrated in inshore areas, that are less physically demanding but environmentally destructive.

19 April 2017

The report Redefining Protein: Adjusting Diets to Protect Public Health and Conserve Resources distils current research looking at the social and environmental impacts of producing high-protein foods other than meat (legumes: pulses and soy, nuts and seeds, eggs and dairy). It aims to provide hospitals with key information to design healthier meals. 

Photo: Camy West, food, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
19 April 2017

In this letter to the editor in Nature, the authors challenge simplified dietary strategies used in lifecycle assessment (LCA) based studies. Citing a paper that presents the LCA of three dietary scenarios for a basket of food products (representative of EU consumption) they argue that “it is irresponsible to present environmentally motivated dietary strategies... that conflict with longstanding public health nutrition objectives.”. 

12 April 2017

Planetary health is a new approach that broadens health research to include the health of human civilisations and the natural (external) systems on which they depend. In a new journal, alongside The Lancet Public Health and The Lancet Global Health, The Lancet Planetary Health will explore the links between planetary and human health and how we can protect the environment on which we depend and develop sustainable systems that support human health. 

4 April 2017

In this article researchers argue that even just 2.5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily can lower the chance of heart disease, stroke, cancer and premature death. If the amount is further increased to 10 a day this could prevent up to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year.

Brian, Food choices, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0.
15 March 2017

In a blog-piece for The Conversation, Duane Mellor (Associate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Canberra) and Cathy Knight-Agarwal (Clinical Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Canberra) argue that it is time to rethink the purpose of dietary guidelines both in terms of content and how people adopt (or ignore) their messages.

7 March 2017

The World Cancer Research Fund International has created the NOURISHING policy database which has now been updated and holds 390 policy actions from 125 countries, and 70 evaluations.

29 November 2016

This newly released free eBook aims to provide the latest perspectives on the nutrition challenges that are now common to all societies worldwide. It argues that the case for good nutrition for all people, in all parts of the globe and throughout the entire life-cycle, is growing stronger and includes contributions from some of the world’s most influential and respected experts in the field.

Photo credit: Martin Delisle, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
22 November 2016

This systematic review confirms earlier findings that a number of well-categorised sustainable dietary patterns are also good for health outcomes. There was consistent evidence to suggest that diets higher in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains and lower in animal-based foods (especially red meat), are both healthier and associated with a lower impact on the environment.

18 October 2016

In a new report, entitled ‘Fiscal policies for diet and the prevention of noncommunicable diseases’, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advocates subsidies and taxes on healthy and unhealthy foods respectively. One of the report’s major conclusions was

28 September 2016

Between 2013 and 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) undertook a survey of innovative approaches that enable markets to act as incentives in the transition towards sustainable agriculture in developing countries.

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