Our ability to choose a healthy diet is strongly influenced by factors such as convenience and cultural norms, as well as our knowledge and perceptions about nutrition, health, and food safety. The choices that consumers make can, in turn, influence what foods are grown, processed and sold.
As part of its series of briefs on food systems, the Global Panel’s new brief, Policy actions to support enhanced consumer behaviour for high-quality diets, looks at consumer-based factors that influence the consumption of high quality diets.
The brief examines policies that can lead to behaviour change and the consumption of healthier diets through understanding lifestyles, needs, barriers, motivators, influencers and triggers to change.
These changes are especially important to tackle the ‘double burden’ faced by many low and middle income countries, where undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies co-exist with obesity and the associated diet-related non-communicable diseases.
The Global Panel has made four key recommendations to support consumers:
◦Establish national standards for healthy, high-quality diets through Food Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG)
◦Educate consumers to make healthier dietary choices
◦Enable low-income consumers to attain higher quality diets though social protection
◦Engage business through public-private collaboration on labelling standards
The Global Panel believes that governments have a responsibility to enable and encourage consumers to make nutritionally-better choices, not only to lead to higher-quality diets, but also to reduce healthcare costs and to improve productivity.
Consumers can also play an active role in influencing the food environment, and their choices can hinder or facilitate supply-side efforts to improve consumption.