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FOOD, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
New solutions for our global food system
A new EAT-Lancet commission launched to tackle the global food system’s role in malnutrition and global change
- The EAT–Lancet Commission will investigate connections between diet, human health and the state of the planet
- The commission will scientifically assess whether a global transformation to a better food system is possible
- The global assessment, due for completion in 2017, will be the first systematic analysis of the global food system
Out of five billion adults worldwide, nearly two billion are obese. Obesity rates are rising in nearly every country in the world and one in three people on Earth suffer from some form of malnutrition. Moreover, overconsumption of unhealthy food is increasingly coming at the expense of the resilience of the planet. This resilience – related to the oceans, atmosphere, ice sheets, land and freshwater – supports a population of 7,3 billion people and the economy.
Political progress on these issues have been slow and haphazard. Yet the science is becoming clearer: it may be possible to feed a growing population a healthy diet without further environmental degradation. Such a shift could reduce mortality and reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Centre director Johan Rockström and colleagues have written in the Lancet ,“No universal and comprehensive synthesis exists to elucidate how to implement sustainable healthy eating patterns at scale for both consumption and production.”
To address this Rockström, chair of the EAT Foundation Gunhild Stordalen and editor of The Lancet Richard Horton, have announced the EAT–Lancet Commission to investigate the connections between diet, human health, and the state of the planet to provide a basis for new, evidence-based integrated policies.
"The new commission will, for the first time, scientifically assess whether a global transformation to a food system delivering healthy diets from sustainable food systems to a growing world population is possible, and what implications it might have for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement."
Johan Rockström, co-chair of the EAT-Lancet Commission
This global assessment, due for completion in 2017, will be the first systematic analysis of the global food system and will help policy makers by providing a roadmap for how transformation of the food system can help in attaining the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Climate Agreement. It will explore synergies and trade-offs between food-related human and planetary health; identify knowledge gaps, barriers, and levers of change in support of the recent international agreements; and tackle issues such as food-price volatility and food waste.
The EAT-Lancet Commission, which consists of 20 world-renowned scientists, was launched in Stockholm on 11 and 12 June prior to the 2016 EAT Stockholm Food Forum.
“The world’s diet is undergoing a dramatic nutrition transition to western diets,” says Walter Willett, commission co-chair and professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
“Wealth, industrialisation, and rapid urbanisation are driving a surge in resource-intensive meat and dairy products and ultra-processed foods. This dietary shift is the main cause of a dramatic rise in obesity and non-communicable diseases,” says Willett.
“Shifting to a minimally processed and diverse diet that is rich in fruits and legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and tubers with little meat and moderate amounts of sustainably-sourced seafood is beneficial for health and for the environment,” says Gunhild Stordalen.
“The good news is that such a transformative shift of the global food system is possible and will bring about great opportunities to tackle today ́s major health and environmental challenges. The EAT-Lancet Commission is a critical step in making this transformation possible,” says Stordalen.
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