Food systems affect human health through a variety of pathways. Unhealthy diets are the most obvious link. Food insecurity is also a reality for many people around the world, leading to debilitating health impacts like stunting. Some of the biggest threats to human health result from the impacts of food and farming on the environment. These include pollution of drinking water with nitrates and endocrine disrupting chemicals, nitrogen-based air pollution, and the spread of antimicrobial resistance via intensive livestock production. Meanwhile, farmers, farm-workers, and food-workers face a range of severe occupational health risks, from pesticide poisoning to stress-driven mental health impacts, that are too often overlooked.

IPES-Food explores the range of food-health linkages, how power affects these impacts, and the question of how to redesign food systems for healthy people and a healthy planet.


All publications
October 2017 | Health

Unravelling the Food–Health Nexus: Addressing practices, political economy, and power relations to build healthier food systems

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the many interconnected ways in which food systems affect human health, why these negative impacts are systematically reproduced, and why certain problems are not politically prioritized. 

Read the full report (ENFRES)
Read the executive summary (ENFRES)

January 2018

Industry-sponsored science is clouding the picture of how food systems impact health


In January 2018, IPES-Food contributed to the special edition magazine of the Food Ethics Council. The chapter considers how the current structuring, framing, and financing of scientific research bears on our understanding of the health risks generated by food and farming systems. 

Read the chapter (EN)

January 2018

Advancing equity, equality and non-discrimination in food systems: Pathways to reform

UNSCN News 43

In a chapter for UNSCN News entitled "Framing the nutrition problem: The political-economic obstacles to healthier diets", IPES-Food Panel Member Cecilia Rocha examines issues holding back our understanding of health impacts and our ability to address them.

Read the chapter (EN)


All media
January 2019

L'Union européenne reste dans une approche low cost de l'alimentaire

L'Echo | Interview Olivier De Schutter

December 2018

Gutes und hochwertiges Essen für alle

Wiener Zeitung | Olivier De Schutter & Thomas Waitz

May 2018

Rebooting food: Finding new ways to feed the future

Reuters | Thin Lei Win

December 2017

A healthier debate is the key to healthier food systems

Food Tank | Interview with Nick Jacobs

November 2017

L’alimentation «low cost» coûte très cher !

La Libre | Olivier De Schutter

October 2017

Expert panel identifies unacceptable toll of food and farming systems on human health

Ecologist | Georgina Downs

October 2017

Obesity linked to agricultural policy, new studies say

EU Observer | David Burrows

August 2017

Agroecology as a means to transforming food systems for health, nutrition and equity in a climate changing world

Barilla Centre for Food & Nutrition

July 2017

Promoting food security and health in a climate changing world

Barilla Centre for Food & Nutrition

February 2017

Time to put a Common Food Policy on the menu

Politico | Olivier De Schutter & Carlo Petrini

January 2017

PODCAST | Episode 210 'The Promise of Agroecology'

'What doesn't kill you' | Molly Anderson

October 2018

Oxford Real Farming Conference opening plenary

Oxford Real Farming Conference opening plenary

June 2017

The Health Impacts of food systems

Cecilia Rocha at EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2017


All infographics
October 2017

Broadening frames of food systems thinking

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October 2017

Blind spots in industrial food systems

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October 2017

The five impact channels on health

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October 2017

The ballooning costs of health impacts in food systems

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October 2017

Contamination and health impacts of various food systems practices

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Additional resources

All additional resources