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Conceptual framework of food systems for children and adolescents

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Research Snapshot1

Malnutrition in all its forms – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight/obesity – affects all age groups across the world and children and adolescents are especially vulnerable. In low- and middle-income countries, only one quarter of young children receive a diverse diet necessary for growth and development. Access to healthy and nutritious food is important throughout the life course and there is growing recognition that the current ‘food system’ needs radical transformation to ensure nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets for all. However, much of the discussion on transforming food systems has not included children and adolescents as key stakeholders. Given the unique nutritional needs of this group and their susceptibility to malnutrition, food system transformations need to explicitly incorporate this angle.

This paper proposes a new conceptual framework (the ‘Innocenti Framework’) to better articulate how the diets of children and adolescents are shaped by food systems. The food system determinants within the framework include food supply chains, external food environments, personal food environments and the behaviours of caregivers, children and adolescents. Examples of diet determinants specific to children and adolescents include the influence of schools, on both access to information and as potential buyers of healthy food products, and intra-household dynamics. The framework also conceptualises the dynamic linkages between the determinants, influencers and drivers of food systems. The structure of the framework is based on that of the more general food systems conceptual framework developed by the ‘high level panel of experts on food security and nutrition’ committee. The framework highlights the diversity of actors that influence the diets of children and adolescents and calls for greater emphasis on the governance and accountability mechanisms of these actors in order to ensure access to nutritious, safe and affordable food.

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1Raza, A, Fox, E L, Morris, S S, Kupka, R, Timmer, A, Dalmiya, N and Fanzo, J (2020) Conceptual framework of food systems for children and adolescents. Global Food Security27, p.100436.

 

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Conceptual framework of food systems for children and adolescents. Field Exchange 65, May 2021. p72. www.ennonline.net/fex/65/frameworkfoodsystems

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