Effectiveness of Dietary Policies to Reduce Noncommunicable Diseases

Authors: Ashkan Afshin, Renata Micha, Michael Webb, Simon Capewell, Laurie Whitsel, Adolfo Rubinstein, Dorairaj Prabhakaran, Marc Suhrcke, Dariush Mozaffarian


In nearly every region, suboptimal diet remains the leading risk factor for poor health; hunger and malnutrition result in substantial burdens and contribute to the incidence and prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Specific population interventions, including taxation and subsidies, food regulations, mass media campaigns, and school and workplace interventions, appear effective in improving diet, and many such interventions may prove highly cost-effective (efficient health gained per dollar spent) or even cost saving (health gains with reduced overall spending). These interventions prove highly attractive and complement the preventive health system strategies promoted in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. Selected policy interventions may also reduce health disparities. Specific knowledge gaps remain in quantitative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of several dietary policies in different settings and within different population subgroups, however. These gaps highlight the urgent need for governments, foundations, advocacy groups, and private industry to prioritize relevant implementation and evaluation of these approaches.



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