Researchers have proposed a new global approach to tackling the world's mounting nutrition and food production crisis. Writing in the journal Nature, leading food policy experts argue there must be an urgent change in direction for research and have recommended ten priorities.
The authors, who include Professor Corinna Hawkes, Director of the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London, warn health and economic problems are set to deteriorate significantly in the next few decades.
They call on governments, research funders and academics to concentrate on nourishing people, instead of simply increasing the volume of food that is produced.
According to their paper Although 795 million people are undernourished and lack essential vitamins and minerals. One in three people is malnourished. Across Africa and Asia, the impact of undernutrition on gross domestic product is 11% annually. At the same time, 2 billion adults worldwide — more than 1 in 4 — are overweight or obese.
Ten research priorities
Here we set out a new global research agenda for nutrition. It is aimed mainly at researchers, funders and governments, but has important messages for all stakeholders.
1. Identify points in the food production process where research is most needed.
2. Make more data on diets widely available and establish open access data portals.
3. Characterise what makes a healthy diet in all countries.
4. Analyse how to tackle the coexistence of different forms of malnutrition.
5. Understand effective combinations of local and long-distance supply chains.
6. Analyse incentives for businesses to improve diets.
7. Shape healthy diets while considering environmental impact.
8. Study the impact of supply and demand of different foods.
9. Identify the appropriate economic levers of change.
10. Fix measurement of each food's impact on health, climate and other issues.
Professor Corinna Hawkes said :we can only fix problems in our food systems if we diagnose them correctly. If we do not, the world's future health and economic problems will be very much greater than they are today.
Nature 540,30–32(01 December 2016) doi:10.1038/540030a