Toward healthy and sustainable diets for the 21st century: Importance of sociocultural and economic considerations


Four years after the EAT-Lancet landmark report, worldwide movements call for action to reorient food systems to healthy diets that respect planetary boundaries. Since dietary habits are inherently local and personal, any shift toward healthy and sustainable diets going against this identity will have an uphill road. Therefore, research should address the tension between the local and global nature of the biophysical (health, environment) and social dimensions (culture, economy). Advancing the food system transformation to healthy, sustainable diets transcends the personal control of engaging consumers. The challenge for science is to scale-up, to become more interdisciplinary, and to engage with policymakers and food system actors. This will provide the evidential basis to shift from the current narrative of price, convenience, and taste to one of health, sustainability, and equity. The breaches of planetary boundaries and the environmental and health costs of the food system can no longer be considered externalities. However, conflicting interests and traditions frustrate effective changes in the human-made food system. Public and private stakeholders must embrace social inclusiveness and include the role and accountability of all food system actors from the microlevel to the macrolevel. To achieve this food transformation, a new “social contract,” led by governments, is needed to redefine the economic and regulatory power balance between consumers and (inter)national food system actors.


Link to centre authors: Gordon, Line
Publication info: Biesbroek, S., Kok, F.J., Tufford, A.R., Bloem, M.W., Darmon, N., Drewnowski, A., Fan, S., Fanzo, J., Gordon, L.J., Hu, F.B., Lähteenmäki, L., Nnam, N., Ridoutt, B.G., Rivera, J., Swinburn, B., Van'T Veer, P.. 2023. Toward healthy and sustainable diets for the 21st century: Importance of sociocultural and economic considerations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.


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