Intended for healthcare professionals


Eating healthily and rising food prices

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 13 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2527
  1. Tim Lobstein, director of policy and programmes
  1. 1International Association for the Study of Obesity, London W1B 1DE
  1. tlobstein{at}

    Implementing a rational food policy requires a political process that is transparent, documented, and accountable.

    The linked analysis article (doi:10.1136/bmj.b2403) by Lock and colleagues assesses the factors that contribute to rising food prices, the potential consequences for food security and public health, and policies that could help to secure an affordable and healthy global food supply.1

    If the UK population ate a healthy diet, this would undoubtedly result in a considerable reduction in the burden of chronic disease, lower NHS costs, and increased workforce productivity. Furthermore, a consensus exists on what a healthy diet should look like. So what is the problem?

    Firstly, we need to appreciate the current situation. The last national dietary survey, conducted in the United Kingdom in 2001, showed how many adults were meeting each of the government’s dietary guidelines for fat, saturated fats, sugar, salt, and fruit and vegetables, but it did not perform a crucial piece of analysis: how many people were meeting all five targets at once? The answer is less than 1%—of the 1724 adults surveyed, just two men and eight women ate all round healthy diets.2

    Next, we need to understand the nature of contemporary food supplies. After decades of government support for …

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