Investors Warn that Unhealthy Food is Bad for Business 

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Nutrition

Poor diets increase the risk of deaths from COVID-19 and other communicable diseases, a long-time concern that has greater significance than ever as a pandemic sweeps the planet.

In a striking development, a group of investors managing more than $12 trillion in assets have warned the food industry that unhealthy foods aren’t just bad for people. They are also bad for businesses and national economies.

In connection with the 2021 Nutrition for Growth Summit, a group of 53 institutional investors pledged to use a set of expectations regarding nutrition, diet and health to guide their engagement with food and beverage manufacturers and retailers. Institutional investors, legal entities managing large sums from sources such as investment funds, insurance companies and pension funds, play an outsized role in shaping global markets.

The document outlining their concerns cites a study that encompassed nearly 30 years of data from 195 countries, finding that “poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risks globally, including tobacco smoking.” Malnutrition, which exists in every country on Earth, isn’t just the result of food shortages. It can also be caused by poor food quality. Persons with micronutrient deficiencies, or who are overweight or obese, can also be malnourished.

Poor diets increase the risk of deaths from COVID-19 and other communicable diseases, a long-time concern that has greater significance than ever as a pandemic sweeps the planet. “The high individual, societal and economic costs of poor diets and nutrition impact on our holdings, portfolios and asset values in the short, medium and long term, both in the food and beverage sector and more widely,” say the investors.

Moreover, they say, demand for healthy food is growing. Healthy products have less risk from litigation or the burden of taxes such as those being imposed on food with excess sugar. Healthier foods offer opportunities to innovate and stay ahead of market trends.

Governments have a role to play as well, the investors note in their pledge, calling on policy makers to use fiscal and regulatory measures to speed the shift to healthy packaged food. They also prescribe a series of actions for food and beverage makers and retailers, including using an independent “nutrient profiling model” to develop a definition for healthy products and working to make such products more accessible and affordable to consumers.

This call to align public health and economic growth is promising, and the arguments for it are strong. It can take time to shift a sector as large as the food industry, however. In the meantime, you can gain insights regarding the food choices that can support your health goals through eSavvyHealth resources.

Our “Real Food” series, which appears regularly in our Health News section, is one good way to get your bearings regarding what “real food” might be, and what the labels on food products can tell you about how much real food they contain.

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

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The Fundamentals of Health Alliance works to publish useful and reliable information about nutrition and health. Their mission is to empower readers to be informed with honest, non-biased information about food, nutrition and the vital components of health.

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