Malnutrition in all forms, ranging from undernourishment to obesity and associated diet-related diseases, is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, while food systems often have major environmental impacts. Rapid global population growth and increases in demands for food and changes in dietary habits create challenges to provide universal access to healthy food without creating negative environmental, economic, and social impacts. This article discusses opportunities for and challenges to sustainable food systems from a human health perspective by making the case for avoiding the transition to unhealthy less sustainable diets (using India as an exemplar), reducing food waste by changing consumer behaviour (with examples from Japan), and using innovations and new technologies to reduce the environmental impact of healthy food production. The article touches upon two of the challenges to achieving healthy sustainable diets for a global population, i.e., reduction on the yield and nutritional quality of crops (in particular vegetables and fruits) due to climate change; and trade-offs between food production and industrial crops. There is an urgent need to develop and implement policies and practices that provide universal access to healthy food choices for a growing world population, whilst reducing the environmental footprint of the global food system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Health(social science)
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law