The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition commissioned this Foresight report in 2015 to take a close look at the extent to which food systems are delivering healthy diets today and to assess whether they are fit for the future. While the focus has been on low- and middle-income countries, the findings constitute a stark warning for all countries. Despite past progress, approximately 3 billion people across the globe now have low-quality diets. Nearly a quarter of all children under five years of age are stunted, more than 2 billion people have insufficient micronutrients and the incidence of overweight and obesity is growing in every region. As a result, many economies are seriously underperforming, and diet-related chronic diseases are placing ever-greater demands on health care systems. Moreover, the situation is set to worsen dramatically over the next 20 years as powerful drivers of change such as population growth, climate change and urbanization converge on food systems. This report shows that unless policy makers act decisively to control overweight, obesity and diet-related disease and accelerate efforts to reduce undernutrition, all countries will pay a heavy price in terms of mortality, physical health, mental well-being, economic losses and degradation of the environment. The stark message to world leaders is that only a response on the scale and commitment used to tackle HIV/AIDS and malaria will be sufficient to meet the challenge, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. It is also essential that the public and private sectors work together to achieve this. This report shows how these considerable challenges can be addressed. In particular, food systems need to be harnessed so that they nourish rather than merely feed people. This alone will open up countless opportunities for interventions that decision makers can tailor to specific situations. The report also sets out clear priorities for action at national and international levels, as well as detailed advice and guidance, which will be of practical and immediate use to decision makers.
Image: Women selling fruits, down town Port-au-Prince, Haiti © Julius Mwelu/UN-Habitat
Source: Global Panel
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