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New Reports from The Lancet Highlight Systems Approaches to Solving Global Food and Nutrition Challenges

photo source: ncdalliance.org

New Reports from The Lancet Highlight Systems Approaches to Solving Global Food and Nutrition Challenges

Two new reports by The Lancet, the British medical journal, provide important insights into deeper thinking on how to solve some of the most pressing global nutrition and food problems.

The first, Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems concludes that food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability, however our current trajectories threaten both. The EAT–Lancet Commission addresses the need to feed a growing global population a healthy diet while also defining sustainable food systems that will minimize damage to our planet.

The Commission quantitively describes a universal healthy reference diet, based on an increase in consumption of healthy foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts), and a decrease in consumption of unhealthy foods (such as red meat, sugar, and refined grains) that would provide major health benefits, and increase the likelihood of attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is set against the backdrop of defined scientific boundaries that would ensure a safe operating space within six Earth systems, towards sustaining a healthy planet. Read the full report.

The second, The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report, notes that obesity is still increasing in prevalence in almost all countries and is an important risk factor for poor health and mortality. The current approach to obesity prevention is failing despite many piecemeal efforts, recommendations, and calls to action. This Commission looks at obesity in a much wider context of common underlying societal and political drivers for malnutrition in all its forms­ and climate change. The Commission urges a radical rethink of business models, food systems, civil society involvement, and national and international governance to address The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change. A holistic effort to reorient human systems to achieve better human and planetary health is our most important and urgent challenge. Read the full report.

As food policy makers, professionals, researchers and advocates in New York City and elsewhere seek to move from our current frequently fragmented approaches to food insecurity, diet-related diseases, and environmental sustainability, these two reports summarize the evidence and provide a framework for expanding our thinking and developing more effective , coordinated and holistic responses to our current food problems.

Nicholas Freudenberg, Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute