The role of young people in making food healthier and more sustainable

Our Policy team was in Stockholm this month to hear about engaging with young people, dietary shifts and a healthy planet

25 June 2019

World Cancer Research Fund International’s Policy and Public Affairs team attended the Eat Food Forum in Stockholm to hear from speakers and participate in side events on the hot topic of food system transformation: how we can meet global food demand in a more nutritious and sustainable way. The event brought together top global thought leaders from science, politics, civil society and beyond, to share their perspectives on how systems can be changed and disruptive innovation can be delivered.

The centrepiece of the event was The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health – a report that explores whether healthy food can save the planet, as food production and consumption is a major contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change. The Forum unpicked what changes are needed to deliver more ‘healthy’ food systems that also contribute to planetary health.

One side event we took part in looked at the health impact of dietary shifts on the global burden of disease and risk factors. Another, held by the World Obesity Federation, distilled the need for advocacy and policy action in tackling the ‘Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change’ (as outlined in The Lancet Commission report). Linking the food system to climate change is giving us new and different perspectives to think about in policy work to create healthier environments.

The Eat Forum are partners in our EU CO-CREATE project, and we took part in their session on engaging young people in food transformation processes. We were able to see their new tools to engage youth alliances in policy dialogue discussions about how to tackle obesity – bringing the mantra ‘nothing about us without us’ to life. We are excited to see how these develop throughout the course of the project and to meaningfully involve young people in policy creation – perhaps inspiring the ‘Greta Thunbergs’ of obesity policy.

On a panel discussion, we learnt about industry tactics of marketing foods high in fat and sugar to children from an ex-junk food marketeer, and heard about UNICEF’s forthcoming State of the World’s Children report, which will focus on children, health and nutrition. 

The two-day conference highlighted the complexity of the food system and its links with climate change, and gave us the chance to think about new young people-led ways to change our production and consumption of food to create healthier environments.

Find out more about our policy work to tackle non-communicable diseases including cancer.