New report showcases 10 ways food systems create better health for people and planet
- Launch coincides with new State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022
- Promote healthy and sustainable diets for healthy people and planet, say 84% of healthcare professionals
- Ultra-processed foods and environmental contamination top list of food systems worries for healthcare professionals
- Case studies from Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, United States show how food and health sector can take collaborative action together
06 July 2022 – Today the Global Alliance for the Future of Food releases a new report Creating Better Health for People, Animals, and the Planet: Food Systems Insights for Health Professionals showcasing how ten food-focused initiatives have taken action to promote human, ecological, and animal health and well-being. The launch coincides with the publication of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 that starkly exposes the fragility of global food systems to climate extremes, the ongoing pandemic, and the deepening food-energy crisis as a result of the war in Ukraine – all exacerbated by rising inflation of food prices and the underlying causes of inequality.
New data from a survey of global health professionals conducted ahead of the report launch confirms that the interconnectedness of drivers behind the world’s food crisis and the need to operate beyond silos resonates with medical and other health professionals. For example, when asked how food systems most impact health, respondents ranked as follows: 1) through the availability and marketing of ultra-processed foods; 2) through environmental contamination, pollution and degradation; and, 3) by contributing to climate change. 72% also agreed that joint initiatives and cross-sector collaboration are crucial to expand perspectives of what constitutes good health.
Other key findings:
- 64% said policies such as subsidies, and marketing restrictions are a key way to build healthier food systems; 53% public education and awareness raising and 39% support funding more regenerative approaches to food production
- 84% said healthy and sustainable diet promotion/consumption is an important way to both improve health and reduce environmental impacts of food systems
- 80% very strongly agreed that climate change, health, and food systems are interconnected
- 39% say they are significantly more concerned about how food systems impact health since the outbreak of COVID-19.
“Trends in the data show us that there’s a growing appetite for health and food professionals to work together and advocate for changes to policy and practice that address the drivers and determinants of unhealthy food systems,” said Patty Fong, Program Director – Climate and Health & Well-being, Global Alliance for the Future of Food. “What the case studies tell us, in turn, is that there are an abundance of opportunities for meaningful collaboration between the health sector and food systems actors. Now is the time to act.”
Case studies of initiatives in Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, United States provide healthcare and public health professionals with evidence and ideas for how food–health action can be taken at local, regional, national, and international levels – including:
- Public health, food, animal health, and planetary health workers’ collaboration is necessary to advance positive food–health outcomes
- Appreciation of lived experiences and Indigenous knowledge is key to better food-health outcomes
- Medical institutions, including hospitals, have a role to play support better availability of healthy foods
- Healthcare professionals can influence government policy in a way that improves the health and well-being of the communities they serve.
- Culturally appropriate nutrition education, food literacy, and skills training should be advocated for through schools, health and social services, and community settings.
For additional comment, contact:
Kasia Murphy, Communications Director,
M: +34 676 607 605
Notes to editors:
The survey was carried out by the Global Alliance to better understand the health sector knowledge and perceptions about food systems issues and, with a focus on elevating trends, to help identify areas of shared interest for future cross-sector collaboration. It was delivered in collaboration with the European Public Health Alliance, Global Climate and Health Alliance, International Federation of Medical Students Associations, NCD Alliance, and the WONCA Working Party on the Environment.
It was designed using a Google forms questionnaire template and reached 300 respondents in 50 countries. The questionnaire was translated into French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. Collaborating organizations reviewed the survey content and methodology, and enabled distribution of the material to their respective networks.
About Global Alliance for the Future of Food
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working together and with others to transform global food systems now and for future generations. We believe in the urgency of transforming global food systems, and in the power of working together and with others to effect positive change. Food systems reform requires new and better solutions at all scales through a systems-level approach and deep collaboration among philanthropy, researchers, grassroots movements, the private sector, farmers and food systems workers, Indigenous Peoples, government, and policymakers. www.futureoffood.org
Nikolai Pushkarev Senior Policy Manager for Healthy Environments, at the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
“It is very promising to see such high levels of awareness and acceptance amongst health professionals about the critical need for a shift to sustainable healthy diets. There is also a rather strong consensus about the policy measures, such as marketing restrictions and subsidies for healthy foods. Now, this agreement needs to be channelled towards policy and politics-oriented change.”
Dr Jeni Miller, Executive Director, Global Climate and Health Alliance: “Sustainable food systems and healthy diets go hand in hand, and are critical to people’s health and well-being. Our current agricultural practices contribute to climate change, and are also severely impacted by it. We must shift to food systems that are better adapted to a changing climate, and that don’t aggravate the climate crisis but instead help to mitigate it. Nutritional security, including addressing malnutrition in all its forms, and sustainable diets produced by food systems that support a healthy planet and the well-being of the people on it, must be priorities in international policymaking.”