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Dietary Patterns

Divided Societies

Societies are more and more divided into Haves and Have nots. In Europe, this can be overserved in the health system but also in nutrition: those without adequate income cannot afford quality food, sometimes even not a sufficient quantity of food. These people are often qualitatively undernourished.

Sources: Health Divide in EU project FoD Cancer (Mission Board) S Giesecke, K Cuhls, D Wasserbacher: Foresight to Develop and Support a Mission – The Case of the European Mission on “Conquering Cancer – Mission Possible”, in: Journal of Futures Studies 28 (2), 2023.; 5th SCAR Foresight publication Duncan, J.; DeClerck, F.; Báldi, A.; Treyer, S.; Aschemann-Witzel, J.; Cuhls, K.; Ahrné, L.; Bisoffi, S.; Grando, S.; Guobys, L.; Kohl, J.; Hansen, H. O.; Hudson, R. L.; Lutzeyer, H.-J.; Nielsen, V. H.; Ruiz, B.; Saggau, E.; Valceschini, E.; Siebielec, G.; Brunori, G. (2022): Democratic directionality for transformative food systems research. In: Nat Food. DOI: 10.1038/s43016-022-00479-x. Global Risk Report 2024:

Nutrition for better health and curing

Nutrition for better health and curing get more and more attention. Even though there are many myths around food and health and the recommendations for healthy food are changing frequently, people who can afford it and have the knowledge of what is good quality nutrition, pay more and more attention to healthy food. Food additives and functional foods also play a role in innovation here.

Sources:   Abstracts     processing    functional     food/    FOSTER     long    list;;; DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12665; Buxton, Jane (2022): The Great Plant-based Con. Why eating a plants-only diet won't improve your health or save the planet. London, UK: Piatkus; Referencelist on;


Nutritional guidelines and dietary recommendations

Developing evidence-based guidelines and recommendations for healthy and balanced diets.

Sources:; Abstracts processing functional food/ FOSTER long list;;; DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12665; Buxton,

Jane (2022): The Great Plant-based Con. Why eating a plants-only diet won't improve your health or save the planet.

London, UK: Piatkus; Reference list on;

Food allergies and intolerances

Addressing the growing prevalence of food allergies and intolerances and providing suitable food options.


Nutrition labeling and transparency

Ensuring clear and accurate nutrition information on food labels to empower consumers to make informed choices.


Food safety and hygiene practices

Promoting food safety measures and hygiene practices to prevent foodborne illnesses and ensure consumer health.


Eating plastics

Plastics are everywhere and we are meanwhile eating plastics in large amounts. There is also first knowledge about the influence of BSPs (plasticisers) on the development of fat cells, which leads to the fact that people gain weight without eating more (science ticker:

Sources:; Plasticosis:

Nutrition myths: obesity

Obesity is not simply developed by eating more calories - there are different processes involved. Plant-based nutrition often contains too many carbohydrates and direct sugars - they even create a kind of addiction if not well balanced. Many diet myths are not yet critically examined and need to be better funded empirically. They tell us that we do not know very much about the molecular level.

Sources;; DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12665;;

challenged by several scientists and medical doctors, also by Buxton, Jane (2022): The Great Plant-based Con. Why eating a plants-only diet won't improve your health or save the planet. London, UK: Piatkus + References under; Presentation by molecular biologist, University of Düsseldorf about ageing


Nutrition myths: plant-based

Plant-based nutrition is not necessarily healthy. Often it can be, but it needs a lot of knowledge and a balanced diet. Vegetarian and vegan nutrition often lack many vitamins and minerals, which cannot be overcome by eating tons of plants or intake via pills (they often cannot be incorporated and exploited). Plant-based is also not necessarily better for climate etc, the narratives have to be differentiated. Many myths were never examined or just taken as given. When looking at facts, many myths can be detected and better nutrition would contribute to a more balanced food system.

Sources: Presentation by molecular biologist, University of Düsseldorf;; DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12665;;; challenged by several scientists and medical doctors, also by Buxton, Jane (2022): The Great Plant-based Con. Why eating a plants-only diet won't improve your health or save the planet. London, UK: Piatkus; Reference list on;

Dependencies on Big Food (big companies, sugar, carbohydrates)

International food corporations ("Big Food") are increasingly conquering markets in emerging and developing countries. As partners of globally organised aid organisations, this opens up markets for industrially manufactured products, which primarily provide profit for the companies. Unhealthy food dominates markets and suppresses the production of smaller scale and healthier food approaches. Sugar and carbohydrate addiction add to these tendencies.

Sources: Kruchem 2017:

Planetary Health Diet

The planetary health diet is flexible by providing guidelines to a range of different food groups that together constitute an optimal diet for human health and environmental sustainability. It emphasises a plant-forward diet where whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes comprise a greater proportion of foods consumed. Meat and dairy constitute important parts of the diet but in significantly smaller proportions than whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. In addition to the targets set within each section, the dietary targets also suggest that the average adult requires 2500 kcal per day. While this amount will vary based on age, gender, activity levels and health profiles, overconsumption is a waste of food with both health and environmental costs.

Science-Based: The EAT-Lancet Commission’s scientific targets for healthy diets allow individuals to prepare and consume meals in the total amount, composition and proportions that fit within the ranges of different food groups. The dietary pattern allows for flexible application of these criteria with room to tailor foods and amounts to different preferences and contexts to reduce the risk of poor diets and environmental degradation. The diet is criticised to be too expensive and not adequate for the lower income parts of the population. The WHO Council assumes that prevention for all is less costly than curing or risking diseases.

Sources:;; Whitmee et al. 2015; doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60901-1;;;

Regulation of food ingredients, especially fat and sugar

Various countries levy a tax on ingredients in foods that are harmful to health, such as fat and sugar, in order to control consumer behaviour. Companies then adjust the recipes of their food and beverages in these markets. As some of the assumptions behind (e.g. to see fat as "evil" in general) are criticised, there are also counter-voices on this who are rather promoting a well-balanced diet and/ or a diet based on more fat (but a good one).


Highly Processed Foods Increase Dehydration Risk

The typical Western-style diet leads us to consume less fluid overall at a time when adequate hydration is key to surviving the heat waves striking multiple countries. Sweltering temperatures have led to much more focus on staying hydrated with liquids, but disappointingly few headlines focus on the role diets play in hydration. Highly processed foods with a low water content are rapidly replacing more traditional, water-rich foods. Bottled water purchases have increased by 40% over the past decade as more people focus on drinking enough fluids, but at least 20% of total daily water intake typically comes from water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.

That 20% can be vitally important to prevent dehydration when temperatures soar. However, over half of the daily calories consumed in Western-style diets now come from a type of highly processed food classified as “ultra-processed” that has most of the water removed during processing to extend shelf life at the store. A food is said to be ultra-processed if it has gone through several extra processing steps adding more fats, sugar, salt, and preservatives that change the final form of the food. This includes foods like breakfast cereals, potato chips, fast food burgers and chicken nuggets, and many frozen meals. This junk food often masquerades as healthy with labels like “gluten free” or “sugar free,” but if you look at the nutrition label, most of these foods contain a lot more sodium, fat, and simple sugars than you need in a healthy diet. They also have a lot less water compared to the original food.

Not all processed foods are categorized as ultra-processed, so it helps to understand the spectrum of processing.

One-ingredient foods — the least processed — are ideal. For example, a strawberry can be eaten in its natural form. That strawberry can also be blended into a smoothie or mixed into plain yoghurt — processed but still water-rich and healthy.


Packaging and health

Advances in processing techniques, preservation, and packaging have enabled the food industry to consistently supply consumers with a wide array of healthy and fresh products all year round. Food packaging can improve food safety by reducing bacterial contamination, prolonging shelf life, ensuring convenience in distribution and handling. On the other hand, food contact materials can transfer chemicals to food with partly unknown effects.


Triple burden of malnutrition

Triple or multiple burden of malnutrition is hunger, adepositas and other malnutrition - all at the same time, in the same region or country. Around 700 to 830 million people worldwide suffer from hunger, and around 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet. Particularly in young children malnutrition can lead to disturbances in the mental and physical development of young and physical development, which are usually irreversible. Thus 150 million children under the age of five are affected by growth retardation due to insufficient nutrition, and another 45 million children in this age group suffer from emaciation. At the same time, more than two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese - and the trend is rising. Research describes the global constellation of undernutrition, malnutrition and overnutrition as the triple burden of malnutrition. In Germany for example, all three forms of malnutrition can be observed. Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are widespread as a result of unhealthy nutrition. Other diseases, such as AIDS, malaria or measles, can have malaria or measles can be exacerbated by poor nutrition. The financial burden on the health care system malnutrition is serious: In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) put the social and economic costs of malnutrition worldwide at up to approx. 3.5 trillion US dollars annually. Childhood malnutrition has a staggering impact on our world. Almost 40 million children worldwide are classified as overweight or obese, and undernutrition is linked to an estimated 45% of deaths among children under five. Fortunately, there are many identified solutions for reducing the risks for present and future generations.

What is childhood malnutrition? Childhood malnutrition generally occurs when a child does not receive the necessary nutrients needed for healthy growth and development, whether it be via undernutrition, an unbalanced diet, or overconsumption. The impacts of malnutrition can be long lasting, with negative effects on physical and cognitive development and increased risks for chronic diseases. These effects can lead to significant costs for health and social care systems in the long term, making it even more crucial to address the problem so that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential and lead healthier lives. What’s more, the level of childhood malnutrition is not evenly distributed across Europe, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and EU initiatives should reflect this regional variation. Countries in Eastern and Southern Europe, for example, generally have higher rates of malnutrition compared to the rest of Europe. There is also variation at country level, with four Southern European countries on course to meet targets to reduce childhood stunting (children being too short for their age), one experiencing some progress, two showing no progress or worsening, and seven with no data at all. This is exacerbated further by inequalities such as poverty, access to nutritious food and healthcare, as well as cultural factors and dietary needs.

Sources:;; 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30041-8;;;;; https://bonndoc.ulb.uni-

Food shortage

As a result of crises such as the global Corona pandemic or the Ukraine war, and in the future increasingly due to climate change, there will be selective shortages of individual food groups. These are strongly dependent on the supply chains. Hoarding and panic buying may occur.


Medication like Ozempic (against adipositas) makes food restrictions unnecessary

Some new medical treatments like Ozempic or Majoun can help people to lose weight because of manipulation with GPT1 - but they have to be taken for the whole life. That already threatens fast food providers or soft drink producers, and it may lead to a society where a differentiation can be seen between those who can afford the expensive treatment and those who cannot. This kind of medication can be a current hype, but there is a connection to many research fields (especially medicine, pharma, chronobiology) and consumer behaviour. It is critically observed that a "problem" in the background exists: obesities of people lead to business opportunities for companies, which means conflicting targets: obese people are created in order for these companies to exist. This leads to perverse incentives.

Sources: Handelsblatt 17/11/2023, CDIs discussions