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Countering the Non-Communicable Disease epidemic in New Zealand with a sustainable food systems approach


A paper recently published in the journal Health Policy from a group at Auckland University of Technology calls for a new approach to health promotion. A shift from individualistic and behavioural approaches toward a broader, collaborative approach with a focus on creating and maintaining sustainable food systems. They urge consideration of the three pillars of sustainability—economic, environmental, and social outcomes (also known as the triple bottom line approach, 3BL or ‘people, planet & profit’).

They also discuss the value of social entrepreneurship and its potential to empower community development for sustainable food systems.

Highlights include the need for:

  • Greater emphasis on health outcomes while considering economic growth;
  • A systemic, multisectoral approach; and
  • Innovative solutions to create awareness and shared responsibility amongst communities.

Citation: Cammock R, Tonumaipe’a D, Conn C, From individual behaviour strategies to sustainable food systems: Countering the obesity and non-communicable diseases epidemic in New Zealand. Health Policy 2021;125(2):229-238 2021;125(2):229-238.


In a similar vein, Aotearoa Nutrition & Activity (ANA) hosted a webinar on 18th February featuring Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health in the School of Population Health, University of Auckland, who spoke to the question, ‘What needs to happen to improve NZ's food environments?’
He said NZ food systems need major transformations to deliver on human health, ecological health, social equity, and economic prosperity. Similar conclusions to the Health Policy article above. During the Q&A Professor Swinburn expressed surprise at the conclusions reached from several high-level global groups of which he is a member, that economic prosperity was not mentioned as a purpose healthy and sustainable food systems. He said this was a big omission. But rather than idealising a socialist alternative, we need to build in the healthy social and environmental outcomes to our existing economic and political system.


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