Urban diets and nutrition: Trends, challenges and opportunities for policy action
This policy brief (PDF) by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition explores the deepening crisis of urban malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries. Urban malnutrition will not ‘solve itself’ as average incomes increase. Evidence shows that as economies grow and urbanization accelerates, child stunting tends to decrease at a slower rate than the concurrent rise in adult overweight and obesity. Urban policymakers need to give more attention to the specific challenges associated with rising rates of overweight and obesity. Without decisive action, the nutrition crisis in urban areas will deepen over the next decade in response to multiple pressures. A rebalancing of policy attention which ensures that all urban residents have access to high-quality diets needs to be a key objective. Policymakers at the local level need to take a leading role in this. Policymakers also need to take a perspective which looks right across urban food systems and beyond to wider areas of government policy which affect urban diets and nutrition. This brief sets out four priority areas where policies concerning urban diets and nutrition are in particular need of change: governance of urban food systems, wider aspects of urban governance, policies relating to the informal retail sector and addressing the triple burden of malnutrition, including overweight and obesity. Only by acting now can policymakers avoid locking in future burdens for health, well-being and economic development.