SELECT COMMITTEE ON FOOD, POVERTY, HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT: CALL FOR EVIDENCE: Dr Sinéad Furey - Written evidence (FPO0019)

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract

SUMMARY OF RESPONSE
• Access to food is a rights-based issue whereby the primary responsibility for ensuring the right to adequate food and the fundamental right to freedom from hunger rests with national governments.
• The causes of food poverty are attributable to insufficient income, benefit delays, benefit changes, debt and increasing housing and utility bills.
• There is no agreed indicator for food poverty but research suggests that food poverty is a rising problem in affluent countries and has become a public health emergency. Ulster University Business School research concluded that between one in five and one in three respondents reported experiencing at least one symptom of food poverty. We welcome the national measurement of food poverty from April 2019 – with first results reported in April 2021.
• Public health implications arising from food poverty include malnutrition, overweight and/or obesity, and mental health conditions with implications for educational attendance, engagement, attainment and progression, life chances, and potential to be meaningfully economically active in adult life with the potential to result in a new epidemic and mental health emergency from widespread stress and anxiety associated with food poverty.
• People’s access to food should not be compromised as a consequence of their rurality. Ulster University Business School is currently developing a Food Poverty Risk Indicator which will be used to map and identify underserved rural areas.
• We support DHSC’s restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt by location and by price to restrict volume-based price promotions as according with Ulster University Business School’s research, What’s On Offer? The types of food and drink on price promotion in retail outlets in the Republic of Ireland which concluded a clear over-representation (compared to the Food Pyramid) of HFSS foods on promotion. We therefore believe that more support should be targeted at encouraging the promotion of food that is consistent with healthy eating and dietary guidelines and directed towards the promotion of positive health messages.
• Consumers are not homogeneous and lower-income consumers’ primary influencing factor when buying food is price with more price-sensitive consumers appearing less concerned about the health aspects of food.
• We support the creation of a regulatory retail environment where largely healthier foods are on promotion, making them more affordable.
• Food banks and the use of surplus, saleable food should not be normalised as the default solution to food poverty because such initiatives distract from the underlying issues of food insecurity.
• Sustainable production and consumption methods, coupled with complementary (agri-)food and health policies can deliver market-demanded food in an environmentally responsible way, mutually supportive of people, planet and profit.
Original languageEnglish
TypeEvidence Submission
Media of outputOnline
PublisherLords Select Committee Parliament
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2020

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Keywords

  • food poverty
  • Public health
  • Food access

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