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, Cow milk cow, CC0 Public Domain
29 October 2018

A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease”, has been confirmed on a farm in Aberdeenshire. The case was discovered before entering the human food chain, and Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon has said that all necessary measures have been taken to protect consumers.

Image: Elmastudio, jippi, our kale is growing beautifully in the garden, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
29 October 2018

Two commentary pieces question the findings of the study “Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk”, which claims that higher organic food consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer. The pieces point out that only two cancer types showed a statistically significant reduction in risk, and that the reduction in cancer risk only appeared to hold true for older women, not men, younger adults or people with a high overall quality of diet.

29 October 2018

The European Public Health Alliance has published a policy briefing outlining 11 ways in which the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) could promote public health.

Image: Jess Attaway, Men digging in a canal in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
22 October 2018

Wastewater canals used to irrigate urban agriculture in Burkina Faso may harbour dangerous microbes such as tuberculosis and genes that give microbes resistance to antibiotics, according to this research paper. The canals sampled by the researchers were designed to protect against flooding, but are used to water agricultural fields. The canals, which are not regularly cleaned, receive sludge, solid waste, wastewater, and effluent from a hospital, a market, houses and a slaughterhouse.

Image: The Advocacy Project, Smiling with an Armful of Food, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
8 October 2018

A global model of how child stunting could be affected by climate change and poverty in 2030 has been developed by FCRN member Simon Lloyd of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. By 2030, an estimated 570,000 to over one million children under 5 will suffer from stunting that can be attributed to climate change, with both greater poverty and greater climate change causing more stunting.

2 October 2018

In a technical report, the American Academy of Pediatrics outlines the health concerns associated with several classes of food additives (including those unintentionally added to food, e.g. from packaging), including bisphenols, phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, artificial food colours, and nitrates and nitrites. The report notes that children may be particularly susceptible to the effects of these additives because of their lower body weight and because their metabolic systems are still developing.

25 September 2018

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has released the 2018 edition of its report on food security and nutrition around the world. The report give key statistics on several indicators of nutrition and explores the links between climate-related events and food security.

18 September 2018

The book “Food Safety Economics - Incentives for a Safer Food Supply”, edited by Tanya Roberts, explores how regulations have affected the economic incentives influencing food safety.

Image: gamene, veggie burrito bento, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
26 June 2018

The relationship between diets, health and quality of life has been the focus of several initiatives to accelerate a move towards healthier diets. However, the results of these interventions have been mixed. This paper by Susan Jebb of the University of Oxford summarises some of these dietary change interventions while discussing the need for improved methods to monitor and evaluate their progress.

Image: Bharathimohanr, Vellappallam Rice, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
11 June 2018

600 million people could be affected as climate change decreases the levels of several nutrients in rice, according to a new paper. The paper estimated changes in rice nutrient content using experiments where rice (of several different cultivars) was grown under conditions of enriched CO2. At the higher CO2 levels, the following average decreases in nutrient levels were found compared to rice grown under ambient CO2: 10% for protein; 8% for iron; 5% for zinc; 17% for vitamin B1; 17% for vitamin B2; 13% for vitamin B5; 30% for vitamin B9. In contrast, vitamin E levels were 14% higher under elevated CO2 levels.

Image: Dr. David Midgley, Aspergillus fumigatus from soil in culture, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic
4 June 2018

The emergence of disease-causing fungi that are resistant to antifungal drugs threatens both human health and food security, according to a recent paper. Some resistance has been found to every main class of agricultural fungicides and many medical antifungals used to treat humans and animals. The paper outlines some factors contributing to emerging resistance and makes some policy recommendations.

26 May 2018

This book, edited by John A. Herrmann and Yvette J. Johnson-Walker, explores the One Health concept, which links the health of humans, animals and ecosystems. Topics covered include the links between biodiversity and health, food and water security, zoological institutions, One Health initiatives and the social cost of carbon.

Image: Julie, Apples, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
26 May 2018

FCRN member Elinor Hallström of the Research Institute of Sweden has authored a systematic review paper on how dietary quality scores are used in environmental sustainability assessment of food. The paper identifies two broad types of dietary quality scores and four different approaches to integrating nutritional and environmental assessments. It finds that both the type of dietary quality score and the way it is combined with environmental assessments can make a difference to which foods appear more sustainable.

Image: 3dman_eu, Underground Metro London, Pixabay, Creative Commons CC0
15 May 2018

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants to ban the advertising of foods high in salt, fat or sugar on the Transport for London public transport network, in a bid to tackle child obesity. The proposal says “This ban would exclude alcohol”, presumably meaning that alcohol could still be advertised.

Image: Kevin Simmons, Calorie Count, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
15 May 2018

From 7 May 2018, chain restaurants in the US with 20 or more branches are required to include calorie counts on their menus. The rules are part of an Obama-era health care law.

Image: DixieBelleCupcakeCafe, Tropical Flower Confetti Cupcakes, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
15 May 2018

Taxes to increase the price of sweet snacks such as chocolate, confectionary, cakes and biscuits could have greater health benefits than similar increases in the prices of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), according to a recent paper. 

9 May 2018

80% of children and 95% of teenagers are not eating enough vegetables, according to the Veg Power fund recently launched by The Food Foundation. Veg Power is running a crowdfunding campaign to promote vegetable consumption among children, produce information for parents, develop contacts with industry and write a book of vegetable-centred recipes for children. Supporters include Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

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