Discover five recent scientific articles from our food, health and sustainability watch.
Canadian researchers have conducted a systematic review of the evolution of dietary, energy and macronutrient intakes in 47 countries over the past 70 years. This work shows that economic growth is leading to a westernisation of the diet although there are regional variations in dietary patterns. Overall, fruit, legumes, nuts and roots intakes remain below recommended levels in most regions. Thus, this study identifies countries that could benefit from nutrition policies aimed at reducing the consumption of saturated fats, low-quality carbohydrates and increasing the consumption of higher quality products.
A systematic review examined the factors affecting the implementation of childhood obesity prevention policies. According to this work, parental reluctance to engage in prevention projects, lack of knowledge, limited resources and lack of funding and political support were the most frequently reported barriers. Conversely, the levers identified include the implementation of healthy eating programmes in schools, and the availability of appropriate and affordable facilities and resources. Thus, this study highlights the need for effective coordination between stakeholders in order to facilitate the implementation of prevention policies.
A study assessed the impact of six greenhouse gas emission reduction policies on population health. Two scenarios for the implementation of these measures were studied and compared to a baseline scenario: one requires a “balanced engagement” from consumers while the other involves a greater and widespread participation. According to this work, the implementation of the suggested policies would improve the health of the UK population over the short to medium term. Combining the six policies would lead to a substantial reduction in mortality by 2050, with a greater reduction in the widespread scenario.
A systematic review attempted to understand and better define environmental and health issues related to current agricultural and food systems. It highlights the extent of the challenges our society is facing and explains why this transition is slow, despite the need for it. Three gaps were identified that need to be linked for a sustainable future: between human and nature; science and culture; and between academic and public discourse. This work suggests that education and innovation in different disciplines are needed for the transition to healthier and more sustainable food systems.
Despite the efforts of school policies, the proportion of European children consuming fruit daily has remained stable at around 40%. To increase the long-term impact of the European School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme, a recent study proposed a systemic and integrated approach of the underlying mechanisms by designing a causal loop diagram. This work suggests that a self-reinforcing mechanism through which children socialise during fruit and vegetable consumption is essential. Thus, the design of the European Scheme should enable children to consume fruit and vegetables continuously while reinforcing motivational mechanisms.