National Food Strategy: What are the recommendations

Last week, part two of The National Food Strategy was published. The press is going crazy for it, so we thought we’d unpick the report! 

The plan for a better food system in the UK says sugar and salt should be taxed, encourages the scrapping of food inequalities and promotes better education around food.

In 2019, the government commissioned Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of food chain Leon, to create a vision for a more sustainable food system that works to protect the NHS, prevent obesity and save the planet. 

The key recommendations include imposing higher taxes on salt and sugar for food manufacturers, extending eligibility for free school meals and allowing GPs to prescribe fruit and vegetables to those at risk of a poor diet.

With more than 64,000 deaths every year being caused by poor diet in the UK and more than half of over-45s are living with diet-related health conditions, the recommendations couldn’t come sooner. In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dimbleby said that if his measures were accepted and implemented by the government, people would reduce their calorie intake by 38kal every day. Equations show that this would help the average person to lose 2kg in weight per year. 

This national weight loss would relieve the NHS of the pressure that obesity and Type 2 diabetes put on the system. In the report, it states that:

Every unit of body mass index put on by every individual raises the UK’s annual healthcare costs by £16.3 … (and) Type 2 diabetes is projected to cost the NHS £15 billion a year, or one and a half times as much as cancer does today’.

On top of protecting our health, the review is also committed to making the UK food system more sustainable. Due to Brexit, the government are beginning to transform how the people who grow our food receive funding. Instead of being paid for the farming they do, they will be paid for the way that they cultivate produce. Although this promotes eco-friendly farming, the budget and the way that it is distributed will not be agreed upon until at least 2024. 

The National Food Strategy is pushing the government to guarantee the same level of funding between now and 2029 whilst also encouraging them to make the new environmentally conscious payments more attractive to farmers. It also recommends that a third of the new budget is used to pay farmers who farm in ways that reduce carbon and restore the environment. 

There have been mixed reactions to these recommendations. Some people are speaking out against the taxation of sugar and salt in fear that it would increase the price of the food on our supermarket shelves. Others are championing the recommendations because they encourage better biodiversity and promote a shift from consuming food for quality, not quantity. 

At talkhealth, we believe that everyone should have access to a healthy plate of food. The government has promised that they will respond to the recommendations with future laws within six months. We hope that this vision has highlighted the social inequalities, environmental impacts and health problems that are intrinsic to today’s food system and that it encourages positive change. 

If you want to find out more about the National Food Strategy, you can read the full review and a round-up of their recommendations on their website

If you want to learn more about the aspects of a healthy diet, we have loads of great resources on our talkweight hub

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 19 July 2021
Next review: 19 July 2024