Food systems for healthy diets: Policy guidance note
This new guidance note (PDF) by FAO and the European Commission presents how a food systems approach can guide the delivery of healthy diets and the steps to take to identify policy options and drive policy change, and subsequently address all forms of malnutrition. In order to provide better access to affordable and healthy diets, food systems need to be transformed, particularly to address the rising burden of overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases. It is important to take a food systems approach comprising four functions – food production; food handling, storage and processing; food trade and marketing; and consumer demand, food preparation and preferences, and to coordinate interventions across these functions. The food environment, the places and ways in which food is sold and accessed by people, is important to consider in addressing nutritional outcomes, as it serves as the interface between the food system and an individual’s diet. The stepwise approach proposed in this guidance note uses existing evidence, frameworks and databases to identify the nutrition and food system challenges in a country, maps current policies, identifies policy opportunities for enabling healthy diets through the food system, and assesses the political economy to bring about policy change. The four steps in the approach are: 1) Conducting a situational analysis; 2) Mapping the policy landscape; 3) Analyzing the policy framework; 4) Bringing about policy change. Identifying and implementing a food systems approach to healthy diets is not necessarily a linear process. A food systems approach is necessarily broad, but the processes described in this report can help to generate consensus on priority actions for healthy diets. However, policy change will require analysis of the political economy and champions who drive the priority initiatives forward.