Food is meant to be a power for good, a fuel of energy, a connector, a source of health, wellbeing and enjoyment.
Yet, food is seen as a source of anxiety and misery for many .
The Food Foundation’s Broken Plate Report launched last week, explaining why the current food system is not sustainable for people or the planet.
And is instead leading to increased climate anxiety, food poverty and insecurity, and is responsible for ⅓ of the world’s greenhouse gases.
However, there is still hope. The government and the food industry must collaborate, upskill and empower to create a more positive and climate smart future of food.
Some key facts gathered by the report:
- Our food environment influences our choices and makes it difficult to pursue a healthy diet.
- The most deprived fifth of the population would need to spend 50% of their disposable income on food to meet the cost of the Government-recommended healthy diet. This compares to just 11% for the least deprived fifth.
- More healthy foods are over twice as expensive per calorie as less healthy foods.
- Only 7% of breakfast cereals and 8% of yogurts marketed to children are low in sugar.
- Just 8 major UK food retailers, caterers and restaurant chains currently report publicly on sales of healthy foods, fruit and vegetables, or animal vs plant-based proteins.
- 56% of calories consumed by older children and adults are from ultra-processed foods.
- Children in the most deprived fifth of the population are over twice as likely to be living with obesity as those in the least deprived fifth by their first year of school.
- Healthy life expectancy in the most deprived tenth of the population is 19 years lower for women and 18 years lower for men than in the least deprived tenth.
Blaming personal failures or assuming that knowledge alone can solve the problem is simplistic and out of touch. Instead, we must focus on addressing the social and commercial determinants of poor diets.
GOVERNMENT ACTION NEEDED:
Government intervention to improve food environments empowers people to make informed choices, prevents the need for drastic measures like surgery or medication, and ensures equitable access to healthy options.
FOOD BUSINESSES ACTION NEEDED:
By prioritising healthy and sustainable diets, companies can not only contribute to the well-being of their customers but also align themselves with the values and aspirations of a more conscious society. Investing in innovative solutions, diversifying product offerings, and promoting transparency can create a positive impact on public health, the environment, and long-term business success.
Powerful leadership is crucial. And everyone who works near, in or with food has a role to play. Together, we can create a food system where the healthiest choices are affordable, available, and appealing to all.
Read more in The Broken Plate report 2023.