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.

8 July 2020

This paper examines the factors that link ecosystem services and the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It also discusses policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

23 June 2020

The journal Agriculture and Human Values has put together a topical collection of 70 articles relating to agriculture, food and the COVID-19 pandemic.

17 June 2020

This report from charity Pesticide Action Network UK compares current UK pesticide regulations with those of the US and Australia - both countries are a priority for post-Brexit trade deals - as well as with those of India. It finds that food sold in the UK could soon be allowed to contain significantly higher levels of hazardous pesticides, if the UK agrees to weaken its pesticide standards during trade negotiations.

17 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic, mitigation measures and the emerging global recession could cause food disruption on a scale not seen for more than half a century, according to this policy brief from the United Nations. The UN calls for large-scale coordinated action to protect health and nutrition.

17 June 2020

This systematic review examines the effects of anthropogenic land use change (such as deforestation, urbanisation and agricultural intensification) on the transmission of zoonotic diseases from mammals to humans. 

26 May 2020

The international initiative Foresight4Food is offering several online resources on COVID-19, food systems and rural poverty.

26 May 2020

This opinion piece on The Poultry Site by FCRN member Laura Higham of FAI Farms considers the nature and food systems dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps we must take to redefine our relationship with animals and the natural world.

26 May 2020

Local authorities in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the COVID-19 virus is thought to have originally started spreading to humans, have announced a ban on eating wild animals along with a ban on hunting wild animals except for scientific research or population regulation. The city will also buy out wild animal breeders. 

19 May 2020

The 2020 edition of the Global Nutrition Report uses the concept of nutrition equity to examine multiple forms of malnutrition, including undernutrition and obesity. The report stresses that poor diets and malnutrition are not simply the result of personal choices - rather, the problem is systemic, with the vast majority of people being unable to access or afford a healthy diet. It calls for coordinated action between stakeholders to build equitable, resilient and sustainable food and health systems.

19 May 2020

This commentary piece draws on the experience of nutrition labelling to explore whether environmental sustainability labelling on food products can encourage more sustainable food choices and contribute towards building a healthy, sustainable food system.

12 May 2020

This paper explores the association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and indicators of obesity in a sample of the UK adult population, using data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey between 2008 and 2016. 

5 May 2020

The UK’s Food Ethics Council has published a write-up of its event “#FoodTalks: From emergency to recovery”, which was held on 28 April 2020. The event discussed how the UK’s food system can move towards resilience and fairness during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

5 May 2020

This opinion piece by Liz Specht of the US Good Food Institute argues that taking animals out of the global food system - for example by replacing animal products with plant-based or cultivated meat products - can reduce the risk of future pandemics. Specht notes that zoonotic diseases usually pass to humans during the hunting or slaughter of wild animals or livestock.

5 May 2020

FCRN member Damian Maye of the University of Gloucestershire has put together a list of academic and non-academic resources on COVID-19 and sustainable food systems. It is organised into categories including agricultural labour, food access and security, local food networks, food waste and food system commentaries.

5 May 2020

This paper combines data on zoonotic viruses in mammals with trends in species abundance. It finds that wild land mammal species with larger populations generally harbour a greater number of zoonotic viruses. Furthermore, among mammal species that are threatened, those that are threatened because of exploitation (e.g. hunting or wildlife trade) or loss of habitat host approximately twice as many viruses as mammals that are threatened for other reasons.

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.

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