Why food in health security (FIHS)? Academic Article uri icon


  • Health is intrinsic to human security (HumS) although it is somewhat anthropocentric and about our own psychosocial and biomedical status more than various external threats. The 1994 United Nations Development Program definition of HumS includes economic, food, environmental, personal, community and political security with freedom from fear and want. Environmental factors are critical for health security (HealS), especially with widespread socio-economic difficulty, and health systems less affordable or accessible. The nexus between nutritionally-related disorders and infectious disease is the most pervasive world health problem. Most if not all of the Millennium Development Goals are food-linked. Maternal nutrition has life-long health effects on the yet-to-be born child. The mix of essential nutrient deprivation and energy imbalance is rife across many societies. Food systems require deeper understanding and governance to overcome these food-related health risks which are matters of food security (FoodS). Nutritionally-related Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYS) are improving markedly in many parts of the world, along with poverty and hunger reduction and health system advances. But recent economic, energy, food, water, climate change and health crises along with conflict are limiting. It is time for international and regional understanding of how households and communities can collectively manage these threats in affordable and sustainable ways. There is untapped problem-solving capacity at the international local level if supported by combined food--health systems expertise, innovation, infrastructure and governance. Principles of equity and ethics must apply. The Food in Health Security (FIHS) roundtable aims to develop a Network to facilitate this process.

publication date

  • September 1, 2009