Connecting food, well-being and environmental sustainability: towards an integrative public health nutrition

Carlisle, S. and Hanlon, P. (2014) Connecting food, well-being and environmental sustainability: towards an integrative public health nutrition. Critical Public Health, 24(4), pp. 405-417. (doi: 10.1080/09581596.2013.877580)

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Modern society has no shortage of human nutrition science, nor interventions designed to improve the way we eat. Yet nutrition science, and the models, approaches and interventions derived from this, is apparently delivering diminishing returns in terms of population weight gain, unhealthy eating patterns and the obesity ‘epidemic’. We draw on a range of literature(s) to argue that public health nutritionists in affluent societies face an ingenuity gap – a series of complex and inter-connected challenges which are neither fully recognised nor easily amenable to resolution through conventional thinking and practice. Four such challenges are: nutritionism; economism; consumerism and individualism. We use an integrative framework to explain their significance for public health nutrition, where they exert a combined and compounding influence. In addition to these problems, insights from other disciplines show that ‘modern’ society and some of its key characteristics are linked to increasing environmental threats. The latter undermine food security and the sustainability of society itself, and possess global impact. For public health nutrition to be situated in and responsive to this broader context, the discipline will need a better understanding of the relationship between modern society, food choice and environmental sustainability. As ‘healthy eating’ may not be an achievable goal within the present social, economic and cultural system, public health nutrition has a unique and vital role to play in shaping change for the future.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanlon, Professor Philip and Carlisle, Dr Sandra
Authors: Carlisle, S., and Hanlon, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Critical Public Health
ISSN (Online):1469-3682

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