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.

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.

8 May 2019

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.

8 May 2019

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.”

29 April 2019

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.

Image: phouavang82, Bacon fry food, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
29 April 2019

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.

17 April 2019

This podcast from the Table Talk series by events platform Food Matters Live explores what “clean label” means and investigates the rise of plant-based foods.

Image: Pxhere, Food produce nut, CC0 Public Domain
16 April 2019

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.

8 April 2019

Former FCRN volunteer Milorad Plavsic now works at the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), part of UK Research and Innovation. He has provided some information for FCRN readers on the funding opportunities available through the GCRF.

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