A new policy paper from the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) calls upon all European States to establish a statutory Sustainable Nutrition Task force to drive better integration of nutrition and sustainability food issues. This follows a report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Food Climate Research Network in 2016, Plates, Pyramids, Planet that found very limited integration of these issues thus far, in the development of food-based dietary guidelines.
As an umbrella group for over 70 public health associations and institutions across Europe, EUPHA are calling upon public health professionals to advocate for healthy diets that are also sustainable in a wider sense – incorporating the three pillars of economy, society and environment.
This new paper from the leading Not-For-Profit public health group in Europe adds further weight and drives momentum towards sustainable nutrition, which is already high on the global political agenda – recently reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development resolution, accepted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
The report defines sustainable diets as those that “diets are nutritionally adequate, safe, and healthy, while having low environmental impact. They are also culturally acceptable, accessible, equitable, economically fair and affordable, contributing to food and nutrition security and to healthy lifestyles for present and future generations”.
In a practical sense this means a shift towards more plant-based diets and a concomitant reduction in the consumption of animal-origin foods. As well as the avoidance of processed foods with added fats (particularly saturated and trans fats), sugar and salt.
Sustainable Nutrition Taskforce
To achieve their policy aim, EUPHA would like to see the establishment of Sustainable Nutrition Taskforces with national agendas to reframe policies, strategies and implementation programmes towards sustainable diets, away from the current food system, which is described as “low cost food at high cost to the environment”.
EUPHA prefers that through appropriate regulation, “the food industry would be required to produce healthy, nutritious (minimally processed) foods in a sustainable manner, which contain low contents of sugars, salt and additives that could adversely affect health; production and marketing should be honest and transparent, with consumer-friendly food labelling, and with restrictions on the marketing of junk food and sweet beverages, especially to children”.
Key Take Outs
– Sustainable nutrition is moving ever-further up the global political and policy agendas
– Expect to see more alignment of the dual issues of nutrition and sustainability in Government dietary guidelines, policies and programmes
– Food businesses should be actively reviewing their product portfolios and marketing strategies to align with the core tenets of sustainable nutrition
EUPHA’s report – Healthy and Sustainable Diets for European Countries is available here: https://eupha.org/repository/advocacy/EUPHA_report_on_healthy_and_sustainable_diets_20-05-2017.pdf