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.

9 September 2020

This study sets out the health impacts and environmental footprints of diets that meet the UK government’s Eatwell Guide recommendations, based on observational data from the UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey. 

27 August 2020

Professor Corinna Hawkes, Director of the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London, has launched a new blog called The Better Food Journey. In this blog post, Hawkes discusses the complexities of regulating the marketing of unhealthy food, noting that without advertising, food companies may instead try to compete by cutting prices or adding sugar. The blog post is topical since in July 2020 the UK government announced new restrictions on the advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

21 July 2020

This report from the European Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics notes that a no-deal Brexit could lead to an increase in the amount of meat imported to the UK from outside the European Union, in part because of possible tariff cuts and in part because food standards may change. The report finds that antibiotic use per tonne of livestock unit is five times higher in the US than in the UK and also higher than antibiotic use in most European countries.

14 July 2020

This discussion paper by the international Food and Land Use Coalition sets out a framework for understanding the impacts of COVID-19 on food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It finds that the cost of a basic food basket has increased during the first quarter of 2020 by over 10% in nine SSA countries and by 5-10% in eight other SSA countries.

14 July 2020

This report by the United Nations Environment Programme considers the root causes behind the emergence and spread of COVID-19 and other zoonotic diseases and sets out key messages for policymakers.

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.

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