The Changing Composition of the Global Diet: Implications for CGIAR Research

Abstract

In the five decades during which CGIAR has worked to reduce poverty and hunger through agricultural research, very substantial changes have occurred in human diets worldwide and in the production systems that sustain them. National diets around the world have become increasingly similar, gaining in calories, protein, and fat, as animal-derived foods and high-calorie plant foods (oils and sugars) have risen in importance. The proportion of diets consisting of major cereals and oil crops has increased, while regionally and locally important cereals, root crops, and oil crops have generally become further marginalized. Developing countries show the most significant shifts in diets over this period.

These changes have been driven by globalization, urbanization, and economic development, including agricultural research. While this “nutrition transition” has enhanced food security by making macronutrients more readily available worldwide, it has had mixed effects on micronutrient sufficiency, and the over-consumption of macronutrients has contributed to a global surge in diet-related non-communicable diseases. Dietary change is also linked with greater homogeneity in farmers’ fields and the associated commodity trading systems, thus heightening concerns about genetic vulnerability to biotic and abiotic stresses as well as food system vulnerability to climatic and political instability. This policy brief provides an overview of the key results from a recent study published by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) (Khoury et al., 2014), which has important implications for CGIAR research priorities.

Citation

Khoury, C.K.; Jarvis, A. The Changing Composition of the Global Diet: Implications for CGIAR Research. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Copenhagen, Denmark (2014) 6 + (Supplementary information) 20 pp.

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