Intended for healthcare professionals

Food for Thought 2023

How do we maintain a healthy diet to avoid cardiometabolic disease, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes? How does the science and politics of food intertwine to influence our understanding of nutrition and cardiometabolic health? Nutrition is an important part of a public health response to prevent and treat cardiometabolic disease, yet there are major uncertainties and debates in this field.

This Food for Thought 2023 collection was developed in partnership with The Swiss Re Institute, and builds on the success of two collections in 2018 and 2020 on the science and politics of nutrition. The collection focuses on key issues within the field of cardiometabolic health and nutrition where there are debates or uncertainties, and brings together some of the world’s most thoughtful and influential voices, representing a range of perspectives and expertise, to examine the state of current knowledge and the quality of the evidence. The collection provides critical reflection and analysis of potential disagreement among experts including on the certainty of the evidence, which we hope can inform the agenda for further research and action for cardiometabolic health.


Challenges of obesity and type 2 diabetes require more attention to food environment
The narrative must shift away from individual choice on to structural factors


High but decreasing prevalence of overweight in preschool children: encouragement for further action
Sarah Maessen and colleagues argue that identifying successful policies and practices in countries with falls in early childhood overweight can help enhance efforts and reduce within country inequities

Evidence for clinical interventions targeting the gut microbiome in cardiometabolic disease
Tarini Shankar Ghosh and Ana Maria Valdes evaluate the evidence for clinical effects of microbiome altering interventions on cardiometabolic traits

Ultra-processed foods and cardiometabolic health: public health policies to reduce consumption cannot wait
Incomplete understanding of the multiple mechanisms underlying the link between ultra-processed foods and cardiometabolic health should not be an excuse for inaction argue Mathilde Touvier and colleagues

Nutrition could prevent or promote non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: an opportunity for intervention
Manuel Romero-Gómez and colleagues discuss how diet and modifiable factors can help prevent of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the importance of engaging all society through awareness, education, and policy change

Non-sugar sweeteners: helpful or harmful? The challenge of developing intake recommendations with the available research
Valisa Hedrick and colleagues argue that current evidence on non-sugar sweetener intake is inadequate, and further research is needed to determine the health effects of individual non-sugar sweeteners, especially in specific population subgroups

Social, clinical, and policy implications of ultra-processed food addiction
Conceptualising ultra-processed foods high in carbohydrates and fats as addictive substances can contribute to efforts to improve health, argue Ashley Gearhardt and colleagues

Interwoven challenges of covid-19, poor diet, and cardiometabolic health
Carmen Piernas and Jordi Merino argue that suboptimal diet and poor metabolic health aggravated the covid-19 pandemic and require greater attention to increase population resilience and reduce health inequalities

These articles are part of a collection proposed by The Swiss Re Institute, who also provided funding for the collection, including open access fees. The BMJ commissioned, peer reviewed, edited, and made the decision to publish these articles. We thank our collection advisers, Nita Forouhi, Dariush Mozaffarian, and David Ludwig for valuable advice and guiding the selection of topics in the collection. The lead editors for the collection were Navjoyt Ladher, Rachael Hinton and Emma Veitch.

The collection will be launched at a event co-hosted by BMJ and the Swiss Re Institute in Zurich on 10/11 October 2023, bringing together nutritional researchers, clinicians, and policy makers to discuss the topics covered in the collection.

Food for Thought 2023: Rising to the challenge of obesity and diabetes, 10-11 October 2023

A better understanding of the key nutritional mechanisms leading to metabolic ill health, including diabetes and obesity, could significantly improve population health. This will be a focus of Food for Thought 2023: Rising to the challenge of obesity and diabetes.

Building on the success of two previous collections (2018 and 2020), The BMJ and The Swiss Re Institute once again partner to explore how nutrition can lead to better health outcomes and greater societal resilience against disease. The event will connect networks of nutrition research and practice with thought leaders and decision makers from business and government.

Food for Thought 2020 collection:

Food for Thought 2018 collection:

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