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.

4 November 2019

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have published this set of guiding principles for sustainable healthy diets, aimed at policymakers.

4 November 2019

The Food Research Collaboration has produced an evidence review and guidance note on the role that convenience stores can play in shaping diets in the UK - specifically, how convenience store operators can be persuaded to offer more healthy food options. 

Image: Martin Vorel, Girl with ice cream, Libreshot, Public domain
4 November 2019

Children in New York City who live less than 0.025 miles (about half a city block) from a fast-food outlet are more likely to be obese or overweight than children who live further away, according to this paper. The probability of a child being overweight was up to 4.4% lower and the probability of obesity was up to 2.9% lower for children who lived further away, relative to those who lived closest to fast-food outlets. The study used over 3.5 million data points (measurements of body mass index) from the New York City public school system between 2009 and 2013. 

Image: Ella Olsson, Variety of vegetables, Pexels, Pexels Licence
4 November 2019

This paper from researchers at Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) project considers the health and environmental impacts of consuming an extra portion per day of 15 different foods. For many of the foods, those with beneficial health impacts also have lower environmental impacts, while many of those with greater environmental impacts also have greater disease risk.

29 October 2019

According to this report from UK charity the Pesticide Action Network and the Soil Association, mixtures of pesticides can be more harmful to human health than the sum of the toxicity of the individual pesticides would suggest. 

9 October 2019

This book examines how people can be exposed to arsenic through drinking water and different types of food in several areas of the world, and sets out some strategies to reduce arsenic accumulation in rice.

Image: focusonpc, Carne cibo, Pixabay, Pixabay License
8 October 2019

A series of review papers on the health effects of consumption of red and processed meat has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Based on the reviews, the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium (an independent group including several of the authors of the review papers; members of the panel had no “financial or intellectual” conflicts of interest during the past three years) recommends that adults should continue to eat current levels of both red meat and processed meat.

Image: Pxhere, Bacon breakfast closeup, CC0 Public Domain
18 September 2019

This paper quantifies the carbon emissions, water use and land use associated with the consumption of food excess to requirements, on the basis that overnutrition has sometimes been classified as a form of food waste. It finds high geographical variation in the environmental impacts of so-called excess food consumption, with impacts being an order of magnitude greater in Europe, North America and Oceania than in sub-Saharan Africa.

Image: Marco Verch, Close Up on the Red and Green Apples, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
9 July 2019

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.

Image: Rawpixel.com, Bubble caffeine carbonated drink, Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain
3 July 2019

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.

Image: Max Pixel, Red Tomato Horizontal, CC0 Public Domain
25 June 2019

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.

Image: zuzyusa, Legumes nuts health, Pixabay, Pixabay License
25 June 2019

This perspective piece argues that the definition of protein quality should be updated to reflect both environmental and nutritional concerns. 

17 June 2019

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.

17 June 2019

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.

Image: Pxhere, Restaurant dish meal, CC0 Public Domain
3 June 2019

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.

Image: elainemgs, Coca Cola Tin Soda, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
13 May 2019

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.

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