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World Action on Salt. Sugar & Health

Global Nutrition Report 2020


The Global Nutrition Report was produced after the first Nutrition for Growth Initiative Summit (N4G) in 2013 after which the first of these annual reports were published. This report aims for all stakeholders to end malnutrition in all its forms. This year, the report focuses on nutrition equity leading to unequal nutrition outcomes.

The progress towards the global nutrition targets is too slow and currently, no targets are on track to reach the 2025 targets:

  •       Stunting (short for their age) affects 149 million children
  •       40.1 million children are overweight
  •       1.13 billion adults have raised blood pressure
  •       422.1 million people are diabetic
  •       677.6 million adults are obese 

We have summarised some key points of the report below, you can access the full report here:

  • Many countries are experiencing a double burden of malnutrition where obesity and other non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) co-exists with undernutrition. The prevalence is increasing and there are no signs of slowing down globally.
  • Malnutrition exists within populations and countries with vulnerable people being the most affected 
  • Everyone deserves and should have access to healthy affordable food and quality nutrition care although this isn’t due to personal options but other systematic barriers that need to be removed. 
  • There are many social factors which add to nutrition inequity such as wealth, social, cultural perception of age, gender and ethnicity; whilst conflicts and COVID-19 had exposed the injustices of our food and health systems.
  •  For example, poor people may not be able to afford healthy food or it may not even be readily available in their communities leading to worse nutrition outcomes this, in turn, can lead to more inequity

Challenges within the food system:

  • Existing agriculture systems are largely focused on staple grains like rice, wheat and maize rather than a diverse range of foods that includes fruits, nuts and vegetables. 
  • Additionally, fresh food and nutrient-rich food is often less accessible or affordable compared to staple grains or processed food. 
  • Food quality is another issue, as packaged and processed foods are very common especially with the growth of supermarkets and fast-food chains. 
  • These foods are often highly processed and unhealthy as it does not meet international recommendations on salt, sugar and fat levels. 
  • Advertising and marketing methods influence consumer behaviours and consumption patterns. Ultra-processed foods are cheap and intensively marketed to low-income groups. 

The report calls for nutrition to be better embedded throughout healthcare by addressing some of the challenges:

  • Increase funding as current nutrition actions represent a small proportion of national health budgets which reduce healthcare spending in the long-term
  • Integrate nutrition into our health systems including preventative and curative treatments and focussing on vulnerable people
  • Implement and develop policies and frameworks to ensure availability of healthy foods for all countries, communities and sectors from production to consumption
  • Implement, deliver, monitor and evaluate fiscal, reformulation, community-based, labelling and marketing measures. For example, The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL); and other taxes can be placed on unhealthy foods such as regulating bans on trans-fat.
  • Hold the food industry accountable for producing and marketing healthier food products 
  • Incorporate a variety of health professionals to reduce inequities in access and enhance their potential through educational and development opportunities. 
  • Regulation and public information campaigns should provide consumers with a complete understanding of unbiased information.  

We need to tackle the injustices in the food and health system to make healthier food more accessible and affordable for everyone by having an equity-focused approach. 

Media Coverage:

The Guardian

Financial Times

The Telegraph


Relief Web

Sheena Bhageerutty, Registered Associate Nutritionist for Action on Salt and Sugar said:

“In the UK, undernutrition and obesity co-exist. In order to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable food and nutrition care. it is imperative to address the inequalities and integrate nutrition into our health systems. 

This report shows the importance of collaboration between health professionals and stakeholders to reduce epidemics across populations and build equity globally. Likewise, Action on Sugar and Salt continues to work with key stakeholders to address our unhealthy food environment through the Seven-point Prevention Plan by advocating for mandatory front-of-pack labelling and ensuring healthier products to be marketed, promoted and advertised to turn the tide.”



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