A new research paper and commentary in the science journal Nature advocates a new global research agenda for nourishing—rather than just feeding—people. What follows are some excerpts.
Around 57 of the 129 countries that have data on undernutrition and obesity are struggling with both. . .
Global food systems are failing to keep us all fed, let alone healthy. How food is grown, distributed, processed, marketed and sold determines which foods are available, affordable and desirable. These factors have a crucial role in the quality of people’s diets, and hence play a vital part in health. . . .
Poor diets are responsible for more of the global burden of ill health than sex, drugs, alcohol and tobacco combined. . . .
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. . . .
[M]iddle- and low-income countries are now following the well-worn, highly damaging path from undernutrition to obesity. . . .
[O]ur conclusion from compiling a report commissioned by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and published in September . . . includes a call to scientists, governments and donors to work out how to craft and sustain food systems to provide nutritious diets for all. . . .
[R]esearchers, governments, industry experts and funders must commit to meeting these challenges—which are inextricably knitted with the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal 2 (zero hunger) and goal 3 (good health and well-being). Piecemeal action will not do: the trends are so large and interconnected that the entire food system needs overhauling.