The challenge of modifying food environment…

For tackling the so-called obesity epidemic, it is now well recognized that only focusing on consumer education has a limited efficiency if the food environment does not allow consumers to comply easily with the recommendations. However, modifying the food environment is a complex task, due to the multiplicity of factors, of sociocultural, economical and regulatory constraints. There is no single and simple solutions which could be applied everywhere. The papers of this issue illustrate this complexity and suggest some possibilities. The first challenge is to adapt recommendations to a specific dietary context: optimizing individual actual diets by linear programming appears to be a promising tool for establishing realistic food based dietary guidelines for a specific population. But their implementation through, for example, regulation of food advertising or the posting of pertinent information for consumers in restaurants is controversial. The design of such actions requires the protracted involvement of many stakeholders originating from various disciplines and fields of expertise. The novelty and complexity of problems we are now facing require new imaginative solutions. It would be interesting in the future to compare, for example, the efficiency (and difficulties) of regulatory actions, like in New York city, and the French experience of the voluntary charters of nutritional improvement contracted between the government and food producers and retailers….

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