Addressing Food and Nutrition Needs ‘Rights-Based approach’
Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (right), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

Tackling inequities in food, nutrition and health outcomes needs a rights-based approach to food and nutrition, based on equality and centred on historically marginalised individuals and communities, according to Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health.

“The intersection of the right to health and right to food is central to achieving substantive equality and realising sustainable development, human rights, lasting peace and security,” Mofokeng told a New York audience at the launch of her report on food, nutrition and the right to health.

“Ultra-processed products, with marketing strategies that disproportionately target children, racial and ethnic minorities, and people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, have replicated colonial power structures and dynamics, with traditional diets and food cultures being replaced by diets largely shaped by corporations headquartered in historically powerful and wealthy countries,” said Mofokeng at the launch, which was hosted by Vital Strategies.

She called for mandatory front-of-package nutrition labelling, and fiscal and food policies consistent with the obligation of member states to protect the right to health and health-related rights.

“Within the context of food and nutrition, the obligation to respect human rights requires that states not engage in any conduct that is likely to result in preventable, diet-related morbidity or mortality, such as incentivizing the consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages,” according to the report.

Mofokeng also raised the issue of land expropriation, occupation and destruction, noting that this “eliminates the ability of Indigenous Peoples and other local communities to produce their own food for a healthy diet and turns food into a commodity controlled by those in power, thus violating their right to adequate food and health.’.

“Food is more than nutrition. Besides being one of the most common sources of pleasure, food is a social glue,” she said.

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