How are health and sustainability adressed in studies of public meals?

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The world is facing a number of challenges related to food consumption. Food conduces to far-reaching health effects as well as environmental impact. System changes are needed tomeet a sustainable, healthy food production and consumption. Public and institutional mealsplay a vital role in promoting health and sustainability. In many countries public meals, in this study defined as meals taking place in institutional settings, constitutes a substantial part offood consumption, and may exert a a normative influence on peoples’ food habits. The aimof this study was to exploratively review how, and if, health and sustainability are addressedin the European scientific literature dealing with public meals. Of >3000 papers, 20 werefound to satisfy the criteria and included in the review. The results showed that schools andhospitals are the most dominant arenas where both health and sustainability have beenaddressed. Three different approaches in combining health and sustainability. In the first“Health as embracing sustainability” health is the point of departure and sustainability isincluded as part of health. This is emphasized in relation to health promotion initiatives andhow these could also be more sustainable, claiming that health should embrace both aspects.In the second, “Sustainability as embracing health” sustainability is in focus and health is seenas part of sustainability. This was for example illustrated when focusing on sustainable foodprocurement which is then also motivated by better nutrition in terms of knowing where thefood comes from and how it is produced. Last, for “Health and sustainability as separateconcepts” the link between heath and sustainability was unspecified or undefined. This couldbe exemplified by the stated, but not inter linked or combined, role of the school meal totackle societal challenges related to health and sustainability. In general, a clear motivationfor addressing both health and sustainability is most often missing. This indicates a need formore research within all public meal arenas regarding issues of health and sustainability, forexample in order to provide a more comprehensive foundation for decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages0
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event6th International ISEKI-Food Conference, held online, 23 - 25 June, 2021 -
Duration: 1980-Jan-01 → …


Conference6th International ISEKI-Food Conference, held online, 23 - 25 June, 2021
Period80-01-01 → …

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified (50999)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics (30304)


  • europe
  • health
  • public meals
  • sustainability


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