Building a community of practice for healthy food systems in Latin America and the Caribbean
In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), a steady increase in the consumption of ultra-processed food with high levels of fat, sugar, and salt has contributed to an adult overweight rate of over 50% and an obesity rate of 23%. Further, in the last 40 years, children’s obesity worldwide has increased ten-fold. The overweight and obesity epidemic in childhood and adolescence will be a major determinant of the future health of large segments of the world’s vulnerable populations. These trends are associated with the increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that are among the leading causes of death in almost every country of the LAC region.
This project aims to establish and sustain a community of practice to improve food systems and prevent NCDs in Latin America. It will promote collaborative learning among individuals and organizations involved in the development and use of evidence for improving sustainable, healthy diets across populations. It will reinforce international cooperation, strengthen research and advocacy tools, and establish inter-country and multi-actor knowledge hubs to address common food systems challenges in the region. A strong emphasis on gender analysis will strengthen the quality of research and related policy implications.
A regional strategy to significantly improve standards on front-of-package labeling will be developed as a pilot. Institutions leading sub-regional hubs will coordinate priority knowledge and action lines and collaborate with countries with less experience in order to strengthen multi-actor research and advocacy capacities and policy awareness.
Five institutions, mostly led by women researchers, will launch the regional community of practice: the Brazilian Institute for Consumers’ Defense, the Inter-American Heart Foundation, the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (Chile), the Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy (Argentina), and the National Institute of Public Health (Mexico). Each partner has individual strengths and a strong record of achievement in generating evidence, raising public awareness, and influencing policies for healthier food systems.