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: 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.

1 April 2019

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.

26 March 2019

This interactive tool from the European Food Safety Authority presents data on resistance to several types of antimicrobials among humans, pigs and cattle.

20 March 2019

This report by US non-profit Centre for International Environmental Law reviews research on the human health impacts of plastics throughout their lifecycle, including extraction of fossil fuels, refining and production, consumer use, waste management, fragmenting and microplastics and accumulation of plastics in food chains.

4 March 2019

This report from the UK think tank, the Food Foundation identifies ten statistics that illustrate the effect that the UK’s food system has on health, and makes recommendations aimed at ensuring that healthy diets are accessible to all.

Image: Jeff Vanuga, Pesticide application on leaf lettuce in Yuma, Az., Public Domain Files, Public Domain
18 February 2019

Switching to an organic diet for six days significantly reduced the levels of several pesticides and pesticide metabolites found in the urine of the 16 participants of this study.

Image: PDPics, Potato chips, Pixabay, Pixabay License
4 February 2019

This report from The Lancet Commission identifies the drivers behind what it terms ‘The Global Syndemic’, i.e. co-occurring pandemics, of obesity, undernutrition and climate change. The report finds that no country has successfully reversed its epidemic of obesity because the underlying causes have not been solved.

22 January 2019

This book, by the academic Marion Nestle, describes how the food industry uses nutritional claims to promote sales of particular types of food.

Image: Renee Comet, Soda, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
22 January 2019

This paper explores the influence that the Coca-Cola Company has had on obesity science and policy in China, in part through Coca-Cola’s influence on the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). The author notes that China’s health recommendations usually focus on physical activity instead of the dietary policies recommended by the World Health Organisation - in line with Coca-Cola’s message that all food and drinks can be part of a healthy diet, as long as there is enough exercise.

3 December 2018

In this report, the Food Ethics Council analyses the 2018 Food Sustainability Index (view interactive graphics here), which ranked the UK 16th out of 28 European Union countries and 24th out of 67 countries when averaged across a range of food sustainability indicators.

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