'Triple challenge' to impact food security for all

19 Oct 2021 11:10 AM

A new report published by Public Health Wales highlights how the combined influences of Brexit, Coronavirus and climate change will potentially impact all of us through the food that we are able to buy. 

Liz Green, Consultant in Public Health, Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales, yesterday said:

“Food security is an important determinant of health and wellbeing at both a national population level, but also at an individual and community level. 

“The whole population is affected by food security to some degree but vulnerable population groups will be particularly impacted negatively including those on low incomes, women, families with children, farmers, fishers and those who live in areas of deprivation. 

“The Triple Challenge has already, and will continue to have, major, multifaceted and inequitable impacts on population groups across Wales which has highlighted the need to address this issue and explore it in more depth. The three core pillars of food security comprise of availability, access and utilisation of food.” 

The paper forms part of a series of reports that highlight how this ‘triple challenge’ will have direct and indirect impacts on the health and wellbeing of the population and how the current point in time presents a window of opportunity to strengthen public health messaging around health behaviours with the increased profile of that Coronavirus has put on health and wellbeing for us all.  

Key findings for how the three influences may effect food availability are: 

Liz continues:

“Wales does not have its own separate food system. It is shaped by wider international, national and local policies such as trade, the economy and environmental sustainability which interact in a complex and multidimensional way and present a series of ‘unknown unknowns’ for policy makers and health and wellbeing. 

“However the present situation provides an opportunity for Wales and the UK to rethink food policy and supply including looking at ways which will be good for environmental sustainability, for example, shorter supply chains could mean less packaging, processing and reduced food miles and could strengthen the importance of Welsh farmers in the UK food system. Evidence suggests this may have a knock-on impact on diet and health behaviours as people adapt to buying more seasonal and locally produced food.”

This paper is one of a series of short reports which aim to provide a high-level, strategic overview of the complex interactions between Brexit, Coronavirus and climate change and key determinants of health, wellbeing and equity. Using a range of evidence, each paper focuses on a key determinant of health or specific population group and aims to support strategic and organisational stakeholders to better understand the Triple Challenge facing Wales both now, and in the future. It provides decision and policy makers, organisations and communities with suggestions about how these impacts could be addressed and identifies the potential actions that they can take.  

This Spotlight Paper focuses on the issue of Food Security and health, wellbeing in the context of the Triple Challenge in Wales, with a focus on food availability, food accessibility and food utilisation.