Public policies to promote heathy and sustainable diets


The term “food systems” refers to all the elements and activities related to producing and consuming food, as well as their effects, including economic, health, and environmental outcomes. As highlighted in the OECD report Making Better Policies for Food Systems (OECD, 2021), food systems around the world are expected to simultaneously provide food security and nutrition for a growing population; livelihoods for millions of farmers and other actors along the food chain; and improve the environmental sustainability of the sector. Food systems face the “triple challenge” of simultaneously meeting these objectives.

Better policies are needed to address this “triple challenge”. But policies aiming to improve outcomes in one dimension of the triple challenge can also affect other dimensions, either positively (a synergy) or negatively (a trade-off). Given these complex interactions, designing better policies can be challenging.

The Global Fruit and Veg Newsletter of this month presents three articles to highlight the role of policy in tackling the challenges of food systems with some specific examples of strategies and programmes in different countries.

The first study (Pineda et al, 2022) aimed to evaluate the implementation of policies that focus on improving the food environment in European countries and identify priority actions for governments to create healthy food environments. The authors recommended action on setting standards for nutrients of concern in processed foods, improvement of school food environments, fruit and vegetable subsidies, unhealthy food and beverage taxation, and restrictions on unhealthy food marketing to children.

The second study (Kluczkovski et al, 202) evaluated the environmental impact and nutritional viability of a school canteen program – the Sustainable School Program (SSP)- aiming to improve the quality of meals. The programme implemented low-carbon meals, twice a week, in 155 schools of 4 municipalities in Bahia (Brazil). It demonstrated that a substantial reduction in climate impact is feasible, successful, and can be an inspiration to other regions and countries.

In the third article (Dickie et al, 2023), a team of Australian researchers suggest a new holistic and innovative approach for food labeling by mixing the nutrition classification and the level of processing. This study concludes that the model presented could be an alternative to existing models to guide policy actions.

Céline Giner Policy Analyst
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), France
About the author

Céline Giner is a Policy Analyst at the OECD where she works at the Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD) in the Agro-food Trade and Markets Division. She conducts and drives research on policies related to global food systems, including policies for encouraging healthier and more sustainable food choices andpolicies that address gender inequality in food systems. Céline is responsible for the OECD Food Chain Analysis Network, an expert group in agro-food systems analysis. She was trained in quantitative economics and econometrics at the French National School for Statistics and Data Analysis and at the University of Essex. She recently participated to a professional training provided by the French National School of Administration for experienced civil servants.

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