Nutrition

Good health requires a good diet, and diseases of under-nutrition and over-nutrition (e.g. heart disease and diabetes) are some of the major challenges in modern medicine.

By Mike Rayner, University of Oxford

Last Wednesday was a good day for those of us who have been campaigning for years for more understandable food labelling. The UK Government announced their final recommendation for front-of-pack nutrition labelling and who will be using it.

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By Hannah Rowlands.

We were honoured to have Professor Susan Jebb present our first annual lecture on November 27, 2013.

Professor Susan Jebb is a nutrition scientist, but recognises that dietary advice for consumers needs to optimise health within the constraints of a sustainable food supply.

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Are lower carbon diets healthier? Adam Briggs explains new research to model the effects of taxing greenhouse gas-intensive foods.

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By Kremlin Wickramasinghe, University of Oxford and Mike Rayner, University of Oxford

The Eatwell plate is the UK government’s official food guide about which foods we should eat to achieve a healthy diet. It is essentially a pie-chart depicting the recommended intakes of five specified food groups: fruit and vegetables, dairy products, cereals, meat and processed foods. It was first published 20 years ago – and despite some two decades of nutritional research has not been changed since.

In some countries – notably Australia, the US and Brazil – the official food guide is revised on a regular basis. Some two decades since it was first published, Public Health England has announced that it will revise the Eatwell plate in the light of proposed new recommendations on sugar from the government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.

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By Prof. Charles Spence

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'People are assaulted by food at every turn, and we’re biologically programmed to eat in case there might be a famine round the corner,' explains Professor Susan Jebb as the West struggles with plenty. 

Professor Susan Jebb studies behavioural medicine at Oxford, and her work is becoming more important by the year as the West battles obesity, diabetes and a multitude of other weight-related illnesses. She focuses on why we eat too much, why fad diets are counterproductive, and how to get the public losing weight efficiently. Here, she talks through strategies to tackle our collective weight problem.

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A study into the greenhouse gas emissions caused by different types of diet has for the first time provided quantitative evidence that going meat-free can dramatically reduce environmental impact. The paper, published in the journal Climatic Change, analysed data from the diets of 65,000 meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans, and found the greenhouse gas emissions for a meat-based diet were approximately twice as high as those for vegans, and about 50 per cent higher than for vegetarians.

One of the authors of the paper, Dr Peter Scarborough, spoke to the Oxford Martin School's Communications Officer, Sally Stewart, about the research and its implications.

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By Kremlin Wickramasinghe, University of Oxford

The School Food Plan for England released last week is supposed to be the blueprint that improves lunches in schools across the country. The important role of head teachers, a funding commitment from the government to support schools, and the requirement for all schools and academies to follow these guidelines are real highlights.

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Article published by Nature (Nature 531, 551 (31 March 2016) doi:10.1038/531551a) written by Dr Adam Briggs

 

Health campaigners and political observers got a surprise in the United Kingdom's latest budget. This month, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced a sugar tax in the form of a levy on sugary-drinks manufacturers.

This is a bold and welcome move from a Conservative government that has often been criticized for not standing up to industry. It demonstrates that officials and policymakers have heeded advice and now recognize that sugar is a public-health problem that needs legislative control. The tax has potential implications not just for public health and the global soft-drinks industry, but also for the ability of all governments to act on market failures in food.

Britain will not be the first place to introduce a sugar-drink tax. Mexico, France, Hungary and Finland, among others, have taxed sugary drinks; South Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia and India are considering doing so. Hungary and Finland have also taxed some unhealthy foods.

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By Kremlin Wickramasinghe

This week, the British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Prevention in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford was officially designated as the WHO Collaborating Centre on Population Approaches for NCD Prevention.

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