Diet, obesity and health - interview with Professor Susan Jebb

Monday, November 5, 2018 - 17:00

Queen's Lecture 2018

Professor Susan Jebb "Diet, obesity and health: from science to policy"

Poor diet is one of the leading global causes of avoidable ill-health. Obesity, driven by overconsumption, is a key issue, and in most high and middle income countries we also eat too much saturated fat, sugar and salt and too little fibre, which increase health risks independent of weight. Despite the widespread acceptance of the mantra “prevention is better than cure”, prevention remains the cinderella of medicine with chronic under-investment in preventative health research. Nutrition research is a crucial component. If we are to make the case to reprioritise healthcare spending and encourage people to change personal eating habits, we need to have confidence that dietary interventions to prevent disease will be effective. But nutrition has become one of the most contentious issues in science and consumers increasingly turn to their peers and not scientists.

The challenge for science is to generate robust evidence of the relationship between diet and health and effective actions to change behaviour. We must also communicate the evidence to policymakers, industry and the public. They need instruments to create a virtuous circle where consumers demand healthier food and industry competes to respond, offering and promoting food and drinks in a way which further drives healthier choices.  The challenge for government is to put in place the conditions which make this more likely for science, for industry and citizens.

 

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