Affordability and Obesity

Issues in the Multifunctionality of Agricultural/Food Systems

Published in: Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, v. 4, nos. 3, 4, July 2009, p. 454-465

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2008

by Roland Sturm

The conference discussed public goods and externalities created as by-products of the food system, including local development, obesity, air and water pollution, climate change, antibiotic resistance, and other public health issues. Multifunctionality is a framework that integrates these diverse issues and has been influential in international policy. This commentary focuses on arguably the most prominent public health issue at the moment: obesity. Though obesity could be considered another multifunctional dimension, its link to other conference topics is tenuous. Using obesity as an argument to promote local produce or achieve other multifunctional outcomes is very questionable. Framing obesity as an issue of poverty or food insecurity trivializes the continuing major problem of hunger worldwide.

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