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Local governments have integral roles in contributing to public health. One recent focus has been on how local governments can impact community nutrition by engaging food service outlets to improve their food offer. The Healthier Catering Commitment (HCC) is an initiative where London local governments support takeaways and restaurants to meet centrally defined nutrition criteria on their food options. Using the case of HCC, the current study aims to provide (1) practical learnings of how local governments could facilitate and overcome barriers associated with implementing healthy food service initiatives in general, and (2) specific recommendations for enhancements for HCC.
Key informant, semi-structured interviews were conducted with local government staff involved in HCC, exploring barriers and facilitators to HCC implementation in food businesses. A thematic analysis approach was used, with results presented according to a logic pathway of ideal implementation in order to provide practical, focused insights.
Facilitators to implementation included flexible approaches, shared resourcing and strategically engaging businesses with practical demonstrations. Barriers were limited resources, businesses fearing negative customer responses and low uptake in disadvantaged areas. Key suggestions to enhance implementation and impact included offering additional incentives, increasing HCC awareness and encouraging recruited businesses to make healthy changes beyond initiative requirements.
In order to facilitate the implementation of healthy food initiatives in food outlets, local governments would benefit from involving their environmental health team, employing community-tailored approaches and focusing on supporting businesses in disadvantaged areas.
To draw lessons from Fiji regarding the challenges and opportunities for policy initiatives to restrict (i) food marketing to children and (ii) marketing of breast milk substitutes, to inform policy for the double burden of malnutrition.
Qualitative political economy analysis of two policy case studies.
Eleven key informants from relevant sectors, representing public health, economic and consumer interests.
This study used two policy initiatives as case studies to examine factors influencing decision-making: Marketing Controls (Foods for Infants and Young Children) Regulations 2010, amended in 2016 to remove guidelines and restrictions on marketing in the form of labelling, and the draft Advertising and Promotion of Unhealthy Foods and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children Regulation developed in 2014 but awaiting review by the Solicitor General’s Office. Factors identified included: a policy paradigm in which regulation of business activity contradicts economic policy goals; limited perception by key policy actors of links between nutrition and marketing of breast milk substitutes, foods and beverages; and a power imbalance between industry and public health stakeholders in policymaking. Regulation of marketing for health purposes sits within the health sector’s interest but not its legislative remit, while within the economic sector’s remit but not interest. Opportunities to strengthen restrictions on marketing to improve nutrition and health include reframing the policy issue, strategic advocacy and community engagement.
Restricting marketing should be recognised by public health actors as a public health and an industry policy issue, to support strategic engagement with economic policy actors.
Our study analysed evolving regional commitments on food policy in the Pacific. Our aim was to understand regional priorities and the context of policy development, to identify opportunities for progress.
We analysed documentation from a decade of regional meetings in order to map regional policy commitments relevant to healthy diets. We focused on agriculture, education, finance, health, and trade sectors, and Heads of State forums. Drawing on relevant political science methodologies, we looked at how these sectors ‘frame’ the drivers of and solutions to non-communicable diseases (NCD), their policy priorities, and identified areas of coherence and tension.
The Pacific has among the highest rates of non-communicable diseases in the world, but also boasts an innovative and proactive response. Heads of State have declared NCD a ‘crisis’ and countries have committed to specific prevention activities set out in a regional ‘Roadmap’. Yet, diet-related NCD risk-factors remain stubbornly high and many countries face challenges in establishing a healthy food environment.
Policies to improve food environments and prevent NCD are a stated priority across regional policy forums, with clear agreement on the need for a multi-sectoral response. However, we identified challenges in sustaining these priorities as political attention fluctuated. We found examples of inconsistencies and tension in sectoral responses to the NCD epidemic that may restrict implementation of the multi-sectoral action.
Understanding the priorities and positions underpinning sectoral responses can help drive a more coherent NCD response, and lessons from the Pacific are relevant to public health nutrition policy and practice globally.
To explore the formal and informal ways in which different actors involved in shaping trade agreements pursue their interests and understand the interactions with nutrition, in order to improve coherence between trade and nutrition policy goals.
The paper draws on empirical evidence from Australian key informant interviews that explore the underlying political dimensions of trade agreements that act as barriers or facilitators to getting nutrition objectives on trade agendas.
Countries experiencing greater availability and access to diets full of energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods through increased imports, greater foreign direct investment and increasing constraints on national health policy space as a result of trade agreements.
Interviews took place with Australian government officials, industry, public-interest non-government organizations and academics.
The analysis reveals the formal and informal mechanisms and structures that different policy actors use both inside and outside trade negotiations to pursue their interests. The analysis also identifies the discourses used by the different actors, as they attempt to influence trade agreements in ways that support or undermine nutrition-related goals.
Moving forward requires policy makers, researchers and health advocates to use various strategies including: reframing the role of trade agreements to include health outcomes; reforming the process to allow greater access and voice to health arguments and stakeholders; establishing cross-government partners through accountable committees; and building circles of consensus and coalitions of sympathetic public-interest actors.
There is an urgent need to identify and develop cross-sectoral policies which promote and support a healthy, safe and sustainable food system. To help shape the political agenda, a critical first step is a shared definition of such a system among policy makers across relevant sectors. The aim of the present study was to determine how Australian policy actors define, and contribute to, a healthy, safe and sustainable food system.
A Delphi survey, consisting of two rounds, was conducted. Participants were asked how they define, and contribute to, a healthy, safe and sustainable food system (Round 1) and indicate their level of agreement with summary statements (Round 2).
This was an online Delphi survey conducted in Australia.
Twenty-nine and fourteen multisectoral and multilevel policy makers completed Round 1 and Round 2, respectively.
The definition included food processing regulation, environmentally friendly food production and access to nutritious food. All agreed that it was important for them to improve access and supply of healthy food and ensure healthy planning principles are applied.
There were cross-sectoral differences in definitions and contributions; however, critical consensus was achieved. The study contributes to the definition of key elements of a cross-sectoral food and nutrition policy to meet today’s environmental, health, social and economic challenges; however, further research using a more representative multisectoral sample is warranted.
Maximising synergies and minimising conflicts (i.e. building policy coherence) between trade and nutrition policy is an important objective. One understudied driver of policy coherence is the alignment in the frames, discourses and values of actors involved in the respective sectors. In the present analysis, we aim to understand how such actors interpret (i.e. ‘frame’) nutrition and the implications for building trade–nutrition policy coherence.
We adopted a qualitative single case study design, drawing on key informant interviews with those involved in trade policy.
We focused on the Australian trade policy sub-system, which has historically emphasised achieving market growth and export opportunities for Australian food producers.
Nineteen key informants involved in trade policy spanning the government, civil society, business and academic sectors.
Nutrition had low ‘salience’ in Australian trade policy for several reasons. First, it was not a domestic political priority in Australia nor among its trading partners; few advocacy groups were advocating for nutrition in trade policy. Second, a ‘productivist’ policy paradigm in the food and trade policy sectors strongly emphasised market growth, export opportunities and deregulation over nutrition and other social objectives. Third, few opportunities existed for health advocates to influence trade policy, largely because of limited consultation processes. Fourth, the complexity of nutrition and its inter-linkages with trade presented difficulties for developing a ‘broader discourse’ for engaging the public and political leaders on the topic.
Overcoming these ‘ideational challenges’ is likely to be important to building greater coherence between trade and nutrition policy going forward.
Pacific Island countries are experiencing a high burden of diet-related non-communicable diseases; and consumption of fat, sugar and salt are important modifiable risk factors contributing to this. The present study systematically reviewed and summarized available literature on dietary intakes of fat, sugar and salt in the Pacific Islands.
Electronic databases (PubMed, Scopus, ScienceDirect and GlobalHealth) were searched from 2005 to January 2018. Grey literature was also searched and key stakeholders were consulted for additional information. Study eligibility was assessed by two authors and quality was evaluated using a modified tool for assessing dietary intake studies.
Thirty-one studies were included, twenty-two contained information on fat, seventeen on sugar and fourteen on salt. Dietary assessment methods varied widely and six different outcome measures for fat, sugar and salt intake – absolute intake, household expenditure, percentage contribution to energy intake, sources, availability and dietary behaviours – were used. Absolute intake of fat ranged from 25·4 g/d in Solomon Islands to 98·9 g/d in Guam, while salt intake ranged from 5·6 g/d in Kiribati to 10·3 g/d in Fiji. Only Guam reported on absolute sugar intake (47·3 g/d). Peer-reviewed research studies used higher-quality dietary assessment methods, while reports from national surveys had better participation rates but mostly utilized indirect methods to quantify intake.
Despite the established and growing crisis of diet-related diseases in the Pacific, there is inadequate evidence about what Pacific Islanders are eating. Pacific Island countries need nutrition monitoring systems to fully understand the changing diets of Pacific Islanders and inform effective policy interventions.
To analyse the policy process for the South African regulation setting upper limits for salt in thirteen commonly consumed food categories, to inform future policy action for prevention of non-communicable diseases.
Semi-structured interviews (n 10) were conducted with key stakeholders from government, academia, non-governmental organisations and the food industry. Interviewees were asked about the content, context, process and actors involved in developing the regulation. Data were analysed according to Walt and Gilson’s health policy analysis triangle.
Key actors and stakeholders in the policy process to develop the salt regulation.
The regulation was a response to research establishing the effectiveness of food supply interventions and to a shared perception that government regulation was the quickest way to address the problem of salt overconsumption. While the regulations were developed through a consultative process, food industry stakeholders perceived the consultation as inadequate. Implementation is currently underway, supported by a health promotion programme. Monitoring and enforcement were identified as the most likely challenges due to capacity constraints.
Comprehensive mandatory salt limits are an innovative approach to food reformulation. Factors that enabled regulation included robust scientific evidence, strong political and bureaucratic leadership, and the pragmatic use of existing regulatory instruments. The main challenges identified were disagreement over the appropriate nature and extent of food industry participation, and monitoring and enforcement challenges due to capacity constraints.
India has proposed legislating an upper limit of trans fat in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and mandating trans fat labelling in an effort to reduce intakes. The objective of the present study was to examine the complexities of regulating trans fat in India by examining the policy processes involved and the perceived implementation challenges.
Semi-structured interviews (n 18) were conducted with key informants from various sectors. Interviewees were asked about sources of trans fat in the food supply, existing policies that may influence trans fats and perceived challenges related to the proposed trans fat regulation, in addition to questions tailored to their area of expertise. Interview data were organised based on common themes.
Interviews were conducted in India.
Interviewees were key informants from various sectors including agriculture, trade, industry and health.
Several themes were identified related to the complexity of regulating trans fat in India. A lack of trans fat awareness, the large unorganised retail sector, a need for suitable alternative products that are both acceptable to consumers and affordable, and a need to build capacity were crucial factors affecting India's ability to successfully regulate trans fat. The limited number of food inspectors will create an additional challenge in terms of enforcement of trans fat regulation.
Although India will face challenges in regulating trans fat, legislating an upper limit of trans fat in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils will likely be the most effective approach to reducing it in the food supply. Ongoing engagement with industry, agriculture, trade and processing sectors will prove essential in terms of product reformulation.
To assess critically the scope for public health nutrition taxation within the framework of the global tax reform agenda.
Review of the tax policy literature for global policy priorities relevant to public health nutrition taxation; critical analysis of proposals for public health nutrition taxation judged against the global agenda for tax reform.
The global tax reform agenda shapes decisions of tax policy makers in all countries. By understanding this agenda, public health nutritionists can make feasible taxation proposals and thus improve the development, uptake and implementation of recommendations for nutrition-related taxation.
The priorities of the global tax reform agenda relevant to public health nutrition taxation are streamlining of taxes, adoption of value-added tax (VAT), minimisation of excise taxes (except to correct for externalities) and removal of import taxes in line with trade liberalisation policies. Proposals consistent with the global tax reform agenda have included excise taxes, extension of VAT to currently exempted (unhealthy) foods and tariff reductions for healthy foods.
Proposals for public health nutrition taxation should (i) use existing types and rates of taxes where possible, (ii) use excise taxes that specifically address externalities, (iii) avoid differential VAT on foods and (iv) use import taxes in ways that comply with trade liberalisation priorities.
To describe pathways through which trade liberalisation affects the food environment, relevant to the nutrition transition, in order to enable public health nutritionists to understand trade policy as a macro-level influence on food consumption.
The pathways mapped in the present paper are based on the agreements of the World Trade Organization, which shape national policy. Implications for nutrition are presented based on a comprehensive literature review, and case studies are used to illustrate the various pathways.
Developing countries are currently experiencing a nutrition transition, resulting in dietary patterns associated with chronic disease. Chronic diseases are amenable to prevention, and trade policy has been highlighted as a potential avenue for nutrition-related prevention.
Trade liberalisation influences the food environment through facilitating trade in goods and services, enabling investment and decreasing support/protection for domestic industry. These policy outcomes facilitate the nutrition transition particularly through increasing the availability and affordability of processed foods and animal products. The framework highlights the complex relationship between trade policy and the nutrition transition, with both negative and positive outcomes arising from different aspects of trade liberalisation.
Policy change associated with trade liberalisation has created incentives for consumption patterns associated with the nutrition transition, but has also had some positive nutritional outcomes. As a result, it is important for public health nutritionists to consider the implications of trade policy decisions in their efforts to prevent and control diet-related chronic diseases.
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