On 2 November 2016, the APPG hosted the Global Panel’s UK launch of its Foresight report: Food systems and diets: Facing the challenges of the 21st century.
The Foresight report sets out how the burden of malnutrition is equivalent to that of experiencing a global financial crisis every year. An estimated 3 billion people across 193 countries have low-quality diets which contribute to poor nutrition and health outcomes, while also slowing economic and development progress. The report outlines the toll that malnutrition takes on individuals, nations and economies today and forecasts the expanding costs and consequences if these trends continue. It provides a guide for governments and decision-makers to change course through action and investment to create food systems that promote health and deliver quality diets.
“Diet is the number one risk factor for morbidity,” said Lawrence Haddad, author and chair of the project’s Lead Expert Group. “And it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Diets don’t get better with improved income, and this is driven by the food system and food environment. It’s complex, but there are lots of levers for policymakers to make a difference. This report puts pressure on policymakers to not do the wrong thing, and guides them to do the right thing.”
Enhancing the ability of food systems to deliver high quality diets is a choice that is well within the grasp of policymakers. It is a choice that will help achieve the SDG goal of ending malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. It is a choice that will reap benefits for decades to come, for all people, in all countries. 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.
“We must resist the temptation to say you can’t make general recommendations because it’s too context specific,”said Haddad. “The Mexico sugar tax is working. Low income countries don’t have to follow the dangerous route that high income countries have done. So my two-word summary of this report would be: wake up.”
Speakers at the event included:
Lord Cameron of Dillington, Co-Chair of the APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development
Sir John Beddington, Co-Chair of the Global Panel; Former UK Chief Scientific Advisor
Prof Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Advisor, UK Department for International Development (DfID)
Prof Jeff Waage, Former Director of the London International Development Centre and Technical Adviser to the Global Panel
Dr Lawrence Haddad, Chair of the Global Panel's Foresight Lead Expert Group (LEG); Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)
Parliamentarians in attendance:
Kerry McCarthy, Countess of Mar, Lord Selborne and Jeremy Lefroy.