The Global Food Research Program at UNC is a global leader in understanding rapid shifts in diet, activity, body composition, and related non-communicable disease (NCD) health consequences. Over the past several decades, our group has collaborated with many low- and middle-income countries to document these problems and to explore and evaluate large-scale, national regulatory options that can be used to effectively prevent and mitigate the effects of poor diets — including obesity and NCDs.
We are focused on creating healthier food purchasing patterns and diets and changing food systems in ways that will positively impact diet, obesity and obesity-related NCDs. We are building a global knowledge base on effective ways to improve diets and prevent obesity by focusing on five major areas of large-scale, national regulatory efforts:
- Taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages, nonessential foods (i.e., “junk food”), or sugar
- Bans on marketing of unhealthy foods or allowance of marketing of only identified healthy foods: This will often link with front-of-package food profiling.
- Front-of-the-package (FOP) food profiling: These may include positive or negative warning logos depending on the country.
- Public institution changes: Schools, hospitals, government buildings
- Other food system changes with potential to reduce obesity.
Within this scope, we have two separate efforts. The first involves current, ongoing collaborations with a set of four countries, wherein we provide research support for both baseline and future policy evaluations as well as advocacy efforts. The second involves a special evaluation fund for selected countries exploring unique regulatory options or representing regions where rigorous evaluations do not exist of such regulatory efforts.
Funding for this effort comes from Bloomberg Philanthropies.