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Demand-Side Food Policies for Public and Planetary Health

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Public Health Consultant, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Division of Food Production and Society, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), 115 NO-1431 Ås Bergen, Norway
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London EC1M 6BQ, UK
Department of Food Agriculture and Environment (DAFE), University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Research Center for the Management of Environmental and Agricultural Risks (CEIGRAM), ETSIAAB, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid 28040, Spain
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), 21027 Ispra (VA), Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 5924;
Received: 28 April 2020 / Revised: 14 July 2020 / Accepted: 17 July 2020 / Published: 23 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Diets)
Background: The current food system has major consequences for the environment and for human health. Alignment of the food policy areas of mitigating climate change and public health will ensure coherent and effective policy interventions for sustaining human health and the environment. This paper explores literature on demand-side policies that aim to reduce consumption of animal-based foods, increase plant-based foods, and reduce overconsumption. Methods: We searched for publications, published between January 2000 and December 2019, considering the above policy domains. Articles were distinguished for type of policy instrument, for topic via keywords and examples were given. Results: The majority of demand-side policies focus on preventing overweight and obesity, using all types of policy instruments including more forceful market-based policies. Hardly any examples of public policies explicitly aiming to lower animal-based foods consumption were found. Policies combining health and sustainability objectives are few and mainly of the information type. Discussion: Moving towards environmentally sustainable and healthy diets is challenging as the implemented demand-side policies focus largely on human health, and not yet on environmental outcomes, or on win-wins. Policies targeting foods from the health perspective can contribute to lower environmental impacts, by indicating suitable animal-based food replacers, and aiming at avoiding overconsumption of energy dense-nutrient poor foods. Preferred policies include a variety of instruments, including strong measures. Conclusions: Working solutions are available to ensure coherent and effective demand side food policies aligning public health and environmental aims. Implementation of aligned and effective policy packages is urgent and needed. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable; healthy; diet; food systems; policy instrument; review sustainable; healthy; diet; food systems; policy instrument; review
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Temme, E.H.; Vellinga, R.E.; de Ruiter, H.; Kugelberg, S.; van de Kamp, M.; Milford, A.; Alessandrini, R.; Bartolini, F.; Sanz-Cobena, A.; Leip, A. Demand-Side Food Policies for Public and Planetary Health. Sustainability 2020, 12, 5924.

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