Over the next 20 years, multiple forms of malnutrition will pose increasingly serious threats to global health. Population growth combined with climate change will place increasing stress on food systems, particularly in Africa and Asia where there will be an additional two billion people by 2050. At the same time, rapidly increasing urbanization, particularly in these two regions, will affect hunger and nutrition in complex ways – both positively and negatively. Unless policy makers apply the brakes on overweight, obesity and diet-related disease and accelerate efforts to reduce undernutrition, everyone will pay a heavy price: death, disease, economic losses and degradation of the environment. A response, equivalent to that marshalled to tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria and smoking is needed to meet these challenges.Around the world, coordinated action needs to be accompanied by fundamental shifts in our understanding and in our policy actions. Much more emphasis must be given to positioning agricultural growth as a way to improve diet quality, rather than merely delivering sufficient calories. Food systems need to be repositioned from just supplying food to providing high-quality diets for all. This will require policy initiatives far beyond agriculture to encompass trade, the environment and health, which harness the power of the private sector and empower consumers to demand better diets.
This output is funded under the Department for International Developments Global Panel on Agriculture & Food Systems for Nutrition Programme
Global Panel (2016), Food Systems & Diets: Facing the Challenges of the 21st Century, London: Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, 133pp