The Select Committee on food, poverty, health and the environment was appointed by the House of Lords on 13 June 2019 to “consider the links between inequality, public health and food sustainability”. It has to report by 31 March 2020. A central question for this inquiry is how to make a healthy, sustainable diet accessible and affordable for everyone.
1.What are the key causes of food insecurity in the UK? Can you outline any significant trends in food insecurity in the UK? To what extent (and why) have these challenges persisted over a number of years?
2.What are some of the key ways in which diet (including food insecurity) impacts on public health? Has sufficient progress been made on tackling childhood obesity and, if not, why not?
3.How accessible is healthy food? What factors or barriers affect people’s ability to consume a healthy diet? Do these factors affect populations living in rural and urban areas differently?
4.What role can local authorities play in promoting healthy eating in their local populations, especially among children and young people, and those on lower incomes? How effectively are local authorities able to fulfil their responsibilities to improve the health of people living in their areas? Are you aware of any existing local authority or education initiatives that have been particularly successful (for example, schemes around holiday hunger, providing information on healthy eating, or supporting access to sport and exercise)?
5.What can be learnt from food banks and other charitable responses to hunger? What role should they play?
6.What impact do food production processes (including product formulation, portion size, packaging and labelling) have on consumers dietary choices and does this differ across income groups?
7.What impact do food outlets (including supermarkets, delivery services, or fast food outlets) have on the average UK diet? How important are factors such as advertising, packaging, or product placement in influencing consumer choice, particularly for those in lower income groups?
8.Do you have any comment to make on how the food industry might be encouraged to do more to support or promote healthy and sustainable diets? Is Government regulation an effective driver of change in this respect?
9.To what extent is it possible for the UK to be self-sufficient in producing healthy, affordable food that supports good population health, in a way that is also environmentally sustainable?
10.Can efforts to improve food production sustainability simultaneously offer solutions to improving food insecurity and dietary health in the UK?
11.How effective are any current measures operated or assisted by Government, local authorities, or others to minimise food waste? What further action is required to minimise food waste?
12.A Public Health England report has concluded that “considerable and largely unprecedented” dietary shifts are required to meet Government guidance on healthy diets. What policy approaches (for example, fiscal or regulatory measures, voluntary guidelines, or attempts to change individual or population behaviour through information and education) would most effectively enable this? What role could public procurement play in improving dietary behaviours?
13.Has sufficient research been conducted to provide a robust analysis of the links between poverty, food insecurity, health inequalities and the sustainability of food production? How well is existing research on the impact of existing food policy used to inform decision making?
14.What can the UK learn from food policy in other countries? Are there examples of strategies which have improved access and affordability of healthy, sustainable food across income groups?
15.Are there any additional changes at a national policy level that would help to ensure efforts to improve food insecurity and poor diet, and its impact on public health and the environment, are effectively coordinated, implemented and monitored?
710 There is no universally accepted definition of food insecurity, but the most commonly used is: “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g. without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing or other coping strategies).” (The Food Foundation, Too Poor to Eat: Food insecurity in the UK, (May 2016): . This definition was also used for the UK’s 2007 Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey.)
711 Scarborough, P, et al. Eatwell Guide: modelling the dietary and cost implications of incorporating new sugar and fibre guidelines, 2016,