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.

20 March 2019

This report by US non-profit Centre for International Environmental Law reviews research on the human health impacts of plastics throughout their lifecycle, including extraction of fossil fuels, refining and production, consumer use, waste management, fragmenting and microplastics and accumulation of plastics in food chains.

4 March 2019

This report from the UK think tank, the Food Foundation identifies ten statistics that illustrate the effect that the UK’s food system has on health, and makes recommendations aimed at ensuring that healthy diets are accessible to all.

Image: Jeff Vanuga, Pesticide application on leaf lettuce in Yuma, Az., Public Domain Files, Public Domain
18 February 2019

Switching to an organic diet for six days significantly reduced the levels of several pesticides and pesticide metabolites found in the urine of the 16 participants of this study.

Image: PDPics, Potato chips, Pixabay, Pixabay License
4 February 2019

This report from The Lancet Commission identifies the drivers behind what it terms ‘The Global Syndemic’, i.e. co-occurring pandemics, of obesity, undernutrition and climate change. The report finds that no country has successfully reversed its epidemic of obesity because the underlying causes have not been solved.

22 January 2019

This book, by the academic Marion Nestle, describes how the food industry uses nutritional claims to promote sales of particular types of food.

Image: Renee Comet, Soda, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
22 January 2019

This paper explores the influence that the Coca-Cola Company has had on obesity science and policy in China, in part through Coca-Cola’s influence on the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). The author notes that China’s health recommendations usually focus on physical activity instead of the dietary policies recommended by the World Health Organisation - in line with Coca-Cola’s message that all food and drinks can be part of a healthy diet, as long as there is enough exercise.

3 December 2018

In this report, the Food Ethics Council analyses the 2018 Food Sustainability Index (view interactive graphics here), which ranked the UK 16th out of 28 European Union countries and 24th out of 67 countries when averaged across a range of food sustainability indicators.

Image: Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, May Beef Month, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
3 December 2018

This editorial in The Lancet argues that countries and people should “limit their consumption of intensively farmed meats”, discusses recent papers on the environmental and health impacts of meat production and consumption, and points out that policies to reduce meat consumption may have to be tailored to different contexts.

Image: Vladimir Kirakosyan, SAS Supermarket - interior, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
3 December 2018

The global supermarket sector's commitments to protect public health are “generally disappointing”, finds FCRN member Claire Pulker of Curtin University. However, some progress is being made address food waste, assure food safety and quality, and support selection of healthy foods.

28 November 2018

The Association of UK Dietitians (BDA) has released a toolkit for environmentally sustainable diets, which contains information on eating patterns for health and environmental sustainability, a glossary, frequently asked questions and a list of meal swaps.

28 November 2018

This book, edited by David Barling and Jessica Fanzo, explores challenges related to protecting environmental resources while also meeting human nutritional requirements.

Image: Kjokkenutstyr, Sliced Avocado Toast, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
26 November 2018

A special issue of the journal Science includes several review papers on important questions in the connection of diets and health, including dietary fat, gut microbiota, fasting and diets for athletes.

12 November 2018

This report by the UK Health Forum argues that the UK’s current food system does not support the UK government’s healthy eating goals. For example, many subsidies support animals products and relatively few support fruit, vegetables and pulses, while healthy foods often cost more than unhealthy foods.

Image: Jon Sullivan, Fresh meat, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
12 November 2018

Optimal taxation levels would cause the price of processed meat to increase by 25% and the price of red meat to increase by 4%, on average, according to this paper. The calculations are based on the additional healthcare costs incurred by one additional serving, as opposed to the total healthcare costs associated with all meat consumption. The paper concludes that such a tax on red and processed meats could reduce the deaths associated with consumption of these products by 9% and reduce associated healthcare costs by 14%.

Image: Akarsh Simha, Spraying pesticide, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
6 November 2018

Researchers have called for governments to phase out organophosphate pesticides in agriculture, ban their non-agricultural uses, and take steps to reduce human exposure to organophosphates. The researchers’ argument is based on systematic reviews that link foetal organophosphate exposure to adverse effects on the development of children’s brain and nervous system.

Image: Pxhere, Cow milk cow, CC0 Public Domain
29 October 2018

A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease”, has been confirmed on a farm in Aberdeenshire. The case was discovered before entering the human food chain, and Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon has said that all necessary measures have been taken to protect consumers.

Image: Elmastudio, jippi, our kale is growing beautifully in the garden, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
29 October 2018

Two commentary pieces question the findings of the study “Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk”, which claims that higher organic food consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer. The pieces point out that only two cancer types showed a statistically significant reduction in risk, and that the reduction in cancer risk only appeared to hold true for older women, not men, younger adults or people with a high overall quality of diet.

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