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.
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.
Two letters in the journal Cell Metabolism respond to the recent paper by Hall et al., Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. See our Building Block on disagreements about ultra-processed foods here: What is ultra-processed food? And why do people disagree about its utility as a concept?
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.
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.
This perspective piece argues that the definition of protein quality should be updated to reflect both environmental and nutritional concerns.
This report from the European Academies Science Advisory Board outlines the connections between climate change and human health in Europe, recommends integrating health concerns into climate mitigation strategies, and suggests areas of priority for further research.
This investor briefing from UK responsible investment charity ShareAction introduces the topic of childhood obesity and sets out the opportunities and risks it poses to investment portfolios.
According to this randomised controlled trial, people eat an average of 500 kcal more per day when offered ultra-processed food compared to unprocessed food (as defined by the NOVA system). Furthermore, the trial subjects gained weight on the ultra-processed diet and lost weight on the unprocessed diet.
This paper explores industrial influence over industry-funded studies, using Coca-Cola as an example. It finds that, despite Coca-Cola developing a set of principles to guide transparency in the research it funds, the terms of funding it provides for some projects theoretically allow Coca-Cola to terminate studies early without reason and demand the recall of all documents from the study. However, no evidence was found of Coca-Cola having actually suppressed the publication of studies with unfavourable results.
This report by United Nations Environment reviews the current state of the environment and policy responses, with a particular focus on the links between planetary health and human health. It covers the impacts of the food system and risks to food security caused by environmental degradation.
This report by the World Health Organisation calls for urgent action on the global and growing antimicrobial resistance crisis. It reports that “[a]larming levels of resistance have been reported in countries of all income levels, with the result that common diseases are becoming untreatable, and lifesaving medical procedures riskier to perform.”
Free-range eggs in the Agbogbloshie slum in Ghana are contaminated with some of the highest levels ever measured (in eggs) of certain toxic substances due to the illegal dumping of electronic waste from Europe, according to this report from Swedish non-profit IPEN and US non-profit Basel Action Network.
This paper reviews data from the UK Biobank study and finds that higher consumption of red meat and alcohol are associated with a higher risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer, while higher consumption of fibre from bread or breakfast cereals is associated with a lower risk.
This paper evaluates the impact of diet on risk factors for heart disease. It finds that replacing red meat with “high-quality” plant protein sources (such as legumes, soy or nuts), but not with fish or “low-quality” carbohydrates (such as refined grains and simple sugars), results in improvements in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
This report by the US non-profit Environmental Working Group analyses pesticide residue data from the US Department of Agriculture. It concludes that around 70% of produce in the US is sold with pesticide residues, with particularly high levels in strawberries, spinach and kale and relatively low levels in avocados, sweetcorn and pineapples.