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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

26 March 2018

Developed by SDG Academy, this free course explores the challenges to ensuring a healthy and sustainable diet for our growing world population, as well as the central role of agriculture in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

26 March 2018

A report (PDF link) tested bottled water in nine different countries and found that 242 out of 259 bottles contained small pieces of plastic. The report suggests that at least some of the plastic particles may be coming from the packaging or the bottling process.

26 March 2018

This book by Parke Wilde gives updated information on food policy in the United States. The second edition includes more detail on food justice and economic methods.

20 February 2018

A former lobbyist for the Snack Food Association and the Corn Refiners Association (whose members make high-fructose corn syrup) has been granted a waiver of conflict of interest rules, enabling her to advise the US Department of Agriculture on dietary guidelines.

20 February 2018

A trial of a school anti-obesity programme in the West Midlands, UK, showed no improvements in body mass index, energy expenditure, body fat measurements or activity levels.

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