The Centre for Food Policy is part of a consortium behind the major new SHEFS project.

Published (Updated )

Researchers at City have helped to secure a £5 million grant from the Wellcome Trust that will fund an international investigation into sustainable and healthy food systems.

The Centre for Food Policy, in the Department of Sociology, is part of a consortium of institutions that will explore the challenge of creating nutritious diets while managing the environmental impact of food production in a changing climate.

Called Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS), the four-year project will see the team provide policy makers around the world with new research-based evidence from a variety of disciplines.

The researchers say the work is needed because of the growing global population, major environmental changes, poor diets and problems with food security.

Professor Corinna Hawkes, Director of the Centre for Food Policy, was one of the key figures in securing the funding from the Wellcome Trust.

She said: "We are delighted that the Wellcome Trust has funded a project that has at its heart the aim of identifying effective policies to encourage better diets and food systems through engaging with communities, policy makers and data."

The SHEFS project will fund a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Food Policy, which will be leading the policy elements of the research. This will involve studying policies, analysing governance and interviewing policy makers to ensure that the proposals at the end of the project are more likely to be feasible and effective.

The research will be focussed in India and South Africa. It will investigate the interactions between environment, food systems and health, pinpointing the relationships that are critical for achieving sustainable health outcomes.

India faces a double burden of diet-related ill health and mortality, while major environmental stresses such as drought are also having a considerable impact. Nutrition inequality is also a big problem in South Africa, which is also under pressure from consumer trends that have turned the country from a net exporter to a net importer of food.

SHEFS Principal Investigator Alan Dangour, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “As the world’s population increases, with a growing divide in food security and big environmental changes, ensuring healthy and sustainable diets for all is a major challenge. We hope to provide important evidence for policy makers on how best to solve the threats to both population health and the planet’s resources.”

SHEFS is a collaboration of researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; UCL; SOAS; University of Aberdeen; City, University London; Royal Veterinary College; Public Health Foundation India; University of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa and the Food Foundation.

The project begins in April 2017.