Policies and Actions

Orienting Food Systems Towards Healthier Diets for All

Below are policies and actions with potential to get food systems working for healthier diets for all. It includes actions which can directly shift food systems towards increasing the availability, affordability, appeal/acceptability of high quality, safe, nutritious foods in food environments, and away from nutrient-poor refined foods, products high in sugars, fats, and/or salt (e.g. fried foods sold by street vendors) and pre-packaged “ultra-processed” snacks.

The scope of potential action in food systems is large. Food systems include a huge amount of activity related to producing, processing, distributing, preparing and consuming food. The actions here represent a wide scope of possible food system solutions across production, supply chain, food environments and consumers. To set boundaries, and to emphasise how actions can have direct impact on healthy diets, actions were limited to those with a clear pathway to impact on availability, affordability, appeal/acceptability and safety. For this reason, actions on broader principles, governance and political processes were out of scope. For more detail on how the actions were identified, read our methods.

Agricultural Actions

Action
Deliver agricultural extension programmes, infrastructure and education to support farmers to grow and market nutritious foods.
Impact
Increase availability and affordability of nutritious foods to local populations.
Action
(Re)design agricultural development programmes intended to increase food producers’ income to also focus on producing, and accessing markets for, nutritious crops and providing nutrition education.
Impact
Increase availability and affordability of nutritious foods to local populations.
Action
Provide women with agricultural assets, training and support to increase agriculture productivity and output, and access to markets to sell nutritious foods.
Impact
Increase availability and affordability of nutritious foods to local populations.
Action
Provide low-income households, including women, with support for animal-husbandry and training for animal rearing, safety management and processing along with nutrition education.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and appeal of animal-source foods to producer households.
Action
Support the production and consumption of nutritious indigenous crops through agrobiodiverse cropping systems, agricultural extension, breeding programmes, subsidies, land tenure rights, regulatory protection, market development and public awareness.
Impact
Increase availability and appeal of nutritious foods to producer households and all other populations.
Action
Deliver (peri-)urban agriculture programmes which provide land and other inputs, support local market development and deliver training and nutrition education.
Impact
Increase availability, access, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods to urban populations.
Action
Provide inputs and training to develop and maintain home gardens along with nutrition education.
Impact
Increase availability, access, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods to populations with access to home gardens (i.e., cultivated plots around or close to people’s homes).

International Trade Actions

Action
Design trade policies to prioritise the supply of nutritious foods over foods manufactured high in fats, sugars and salt and their ingredient, taking account of the benefits of local and international supply chains in different contexts, the protection smallholder farmers, and the availability of complementary policies.
Impact
Increase availability and affordability of nutritious foods and reduce availability and affordability of foods high in fats, sugars and salt and increase to all populations.

Research, Processing and Technology Actions

Action
Prioritise high-nutrient density when breeding crops in conventional crop breeding programmes and when selecting crops to grow.
Impact
Increase availability of micronutrients in foods already available to all populations.
Action
Implement biofortification programmes including breeding, support for adoption and market development and public awareness campaigns.
Impact
Increase availability of micronutrients in foods already available to all populations.
Action
Develop innovative postharvest storage technologies, packaging and processing techniques for nutritious foods to reduce nutrient losses, remove anti-nutrients, prevent contamination and reduce food losses.
Impact
Increase availability, appeal and safety of nutritious foods throughout the year to all populations.
Action
Develop new processed products that extend the shelf life of nutritious foods, make them more convenient for consumers to prepare, and reduce food and nutrient losses.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods throughout the year to all populations.
Action
Implement mandatory large-scale food fortification programmes.
Impact
Increase availability of micronutrients in staple foods already available to all populations.
Action
Reformulate processed food to reduce fats, sugars and salt.
Impact
Reduce availability of fats, sugars and salt in foods already available to all populations.
Action
Research and develop alternative proteins sources and share the research in the public domain.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and appeal of alternative micronutrient-rich protein sources and reduce appeal of red meat to high red-meat consumers.

Supply Chain Infrastructure Actions

Action
Build and improve roads, transportation, storage, cold chain and logistical distribution infrastructure to enable the delivery of safe, perishable nutritious foods to urban and rural markets.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and safety of nutritious foods in markets serving local populations.
Action
Support the development of e-commerce platforms to help producers create markets for nutritious foods and improve access for populations with limited mobility or in underserved areas.
Impact
Increase access to nutritious foods to under-served populations.
Action
Maintain and upgrade markets selling nutritious foods to low-income communities and ensure they have access to infrastructure to enhance food safety and reduce foods losses.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability, access and safety of nutritious foods in markets serving low-income populations.
Action
Empower smallholder farmers and small farm businesses to access markets for nutritious foods by establishing farm associations, cooperatives and food hubs, developing mechanisms for collective bargaining and increasing access to price information.
Impact
Increase availability of nutritious foods in markets serving local populations.
Action
Develop infrastructure to reduce loss and waste of nutritious foods and increase its redistribution.
Impact
Increase availability nutritious foods to low-income and all populations.
Action
Mandate training programmes for food producers and retailers on storage, processing and packaging to reduce spoilage and contamination of nutritious foods.
Impact
Increase availability and safety of nutritious foods to all populations.

Financial Actions

Action
Redirect agriculture subsidies from staple crops to increasing production of nutritious foods.
Impact
Increase availability and affordability of nutritious foods and reduce availability and affordability of refined staples and ingredients used in manufactured foods high in fats, sugars and salt to all populations.
Action
Provide nutritious foods and meals at lower prices at point-of-purchase by subsidising public distribution programmes, state-managed stores, public restaurants, and other forms of subsidy programmes.
Impact
Increase affordability and access to nutritious foods to populations with access to the programmes.
Action
Focus cash transfer, voucher and food delivery programmes on increasing the availability, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods and limiting the appeal of foods high in fats, sugars and salt.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods and reduce the affordability and appeal of foods high in fats, sugars and salt to low-income populations with access to the programmes.
Action
Implement taxes to decrease affordability and incentivise reformulation of sugary drinks and foods high in fats, sugars and salt food.
Impact
Decrease affordability of sugary drinks and foods high in fats, sugars and salt to all populations.

Public Institution Actions

Action
Implement comprehensive school food programmes, incorporating food and meals, nutrition standards, nutrition education, school gardens, food personnel training, food skills and literacy.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and access of nutritious foods and reduce access to foods high in fats, sugars and salt to school-aged children.
Action
Adopt a public food procurement policy that applies nutritional guidelines to food procured for public institutions and prioritises purchasing from smallholders, local, family and/or sustainable food producers.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and access of nutritious foods and reduce access to foods high in fats, sugars and salt to people served by public institutions.

Business Incentives

Action
Provide incentives to fast food outlets, street food vendors and food service trucks to place nutritious options more prominently or in place of foods high in fats, sugar, salt, reformulate their recipes and promote only nutritious foods.
Impact
Increase availability and appeal of nutritious foods and reduce availability and appeal of foods high in fat, sugar and salt to local populations.
Action
Provide technical assistance, equipment, cost-sharing etc. to businesses to provide nutritious foods to their employees at lower prices.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and access to nutritious foods to adults in workplaces.
Action
Develop independent accountability mechanisms to monitor and publicly report on business progress towards increasing the availability, access, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods and decreasing it for foods high in fats, sugars and salt.
Impact
Increase availability, access, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods and decrease for foods high in fats, sugars and salt to all populations.
Action
Provide investment funds and technical support for start-ups and small-and medium-sized food processing business to produce, market and promote nutritious foods targeted at low-income consumers.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods to low-income populations.
Action
Use financial incentives and planning regulations to drive the establishment of new supermarkets, fresh food markets, shops and street vendors in underserved communities.
Impact
Increase availability and access to nutritious foods to underserved populations.

Regulations and Laws

Action
Set mandatory limits on trans fats, sugar, salt/sodium and/or saturated fat in packaged foods.
Impact
Reduce availability of foods high in fats, sugars and salt to all populations.
Action
Require nutrition labelling on packages/menus to indicate if foods are high in calories, fats, sugars and/or salt and/or in positive nutrients.
Impact
Reduce appeal and availability of foods high in fat, sugar and salt and increases appeal of nutritious foods to all populations.
Action
Restrict all forms of marketing, advertising and in-store promotions of HFSS foods, particularly to children.
Impact
Reduce appeal foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children.
Action
Use zoning laws to restrict numbers of “fast food” outlets and vendors in select geographic areas.
Impact
Reduce availability and access of foods high in fats, sugar and salt to local populations.
Action
Establish and enforce safety regulations, surveillance mechanisms and protocols throughout the supply chain for nutritious foods, taking into consideration the importance of access to affordable nutritious foods among low-income populations through the informal sector.
Impact
Increase safety of nutritious foods to all populations.

Education and Public Awareness Actions

Action
Deliver culturally-appropriate nutrition education, food literacy and skills training to children and adults through schools, health services, agricultural extension, social protection schemes and community settings.
Impact
Increase appeal of nutritious foods and reduce appeal of foods high in fats, sugars and salt to populations served by the education programmes.
Action
Provide dietary counselling to women during antenatal care and pregnancy, including awareness of benefits of nutritious food and risks of foods high in fats, sugars and salt.
Impact
Increase appeal of nutritious foods and reduce appeal of foods high in fats, sugars and salt to pregnant women served by the counselling programmes.
Action
Launch engaging and compelling mass media and behaviour change communication campaigns about foods and diets.
Impact
Increase appeal of nutritious foods and reduce appeal of foods high in fats, sugars and salt to all populations.
Action
Promote traditional food cultures associated with good nutrition by supporting and protecting traditional foods, providing information about traditional dishes and public awareness campaigns.
Impact
Increase appeal of nutritious foods to all populations.

National Guidelines

Action
Align all food systems policies and programmes with food-based dietary guidelines and widely communicate the guidelines to the general public.
Impact
Increase availability, affordability and appeal of nutritious foods, and reduce availability, affordability and appeal of foods high in fat, sugar and salt to all populations.