Skip to main content

Supporting policy with scientific evidence

We mobilise people and resources to create, curate, make sense of and use knowledge to inform policymaking across Europe.

Publication | 2024

IFPRI Global Food Policy report 2024 - Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Nutrition


The document presents a comprehensive overview of the need to shift towards healthier diets and the possible solutions.

Rationale for this shift

-  A recent slowdown in progress in reducing hunger and undernutrition, combined with the rapid increase in overweight and obesity worldwide, along with the challenges climate change imposes on food systems, highlights the urgent need to transform our food systems.

-  Many countries now face a double burden of malnutrition, where undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies coexist with overweight and obesity, or diet-related NCDs, within individuals, households, and communities, and across the life course.

-  Less than half of the world's population consumes diverse diets that include enough fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods. For many people, these nutrient-dense foods are unaffordable, not readily available, or not preferred for a variety of reasons. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), diets are rapidly evolving to include higher consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs), which have resulted from changing livelihoods and lifestyles, as well as the increased availability and marketing of these less expensive foods.

-  Food systems have significant environmental and climate-related impacts, contributing around one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and often negatively affecting land quality, water use, and biodiversity.


Healthy diets provide the nutrients needed for an active and healthy life. They include a diverse range of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and varying amounts of animal-source foods (ASFs). Healthy diets limit the consumption of foods high in sugar, salt, and fat, and provide high concentrations of nutrients, fiber, and other protective elements.

To achieve sustainable healthy diets, meaningful actions must be interlinked and supported by good governance. The document presents several promising approaches, including:

a.  Demand-side approaches: These aim to promote changes in consumer behavior, make healthy diets more affordable, and improve food environments. Examples include national food-based dietary guidelines, social and behavior change (SBC) interventions, and nutrition-sensitive agriculture programs.

b.  Addressing affordability and food environments: Improving the affordability of healthy diets is a major constraint in LMICs. This can be addressed through pro-poor economic growth, well-targeted social protection programs, and realigning agricultural policies towards nutrient-dense foods. Improving food environments includes providing information and incentives to consumers, such as labeling foods high in fat, salt, and sugar, and fiscal measures to nudge consumers towards healthier diets, such as taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.

c.  Improving the availability of healthy and sustainable foods: This can be achieved by leveraging food crops for better nutrition, ensuring the availability of sustainably produced animal-source foods, and strengthening value chains and markets. Examples include promoting crop diversification, introducing new species or intercropping, and using orphan crops.

d.  Data and evidence: Urgent efforts are needed to support governments and other actors at all levels in using data and evidence to guide national nutrition plans, identify effective entry points for improving diets, set goals for their own food systems transformation efforts, and navigate trade-offs and conflicts of interest along the way.