Challenging the UK’s food system to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
By Robin Hinks
The Sustainable Development Goals offer us an opportunity to challenge a food system in the UK that is unhealthy, unfair and unsustainable. In this blog Robin Hinks from the Food Foundation explains why and how.
Less healthy food products, calorie for calorie, are three times cheaper than healthier food products. This price differential, and a range of other factors, are pushing us towards unhealthy diets; now the biggest risk factor to death and disability in the UK. Not only does this permanently scar the life chances of individuals, it places considerable pressure on public services. Tackling obesity alone could deliver economic benefits worth £17 billion per year including an £800m annual saving to NHS.
These effects are not felt evenly across the country. Many dietary patterns are characterised by socio-economic situation – with higher income levels generally associated with healthier diets. What’s more, UN data suggests that in 2014, 8.4 million people were living in UK households affected by household food insecurity.
The UK’s food system is also unsustainable for the environment. Recent research indicates that bringing UK diets in line with international dietary recommendations while maintaining a dietary pattern familiar to the UK would reduce UK diet-related Green House Gas emissions by 17%.