Improvements to diet have a proven beneficial effect on long-term health, preventing diseases including cancer, heart problems and diabetes, improving concentration and performance as well as supporting a better quality of life. Diet is therefore part of the social considerations in a sustainable development policy.
Whilst a significant number of those living in Wales have healthy diets, there is a large number of people who eat unhealthily, resulting in poor quality of life and a strain on the provision of health and social services. To improve the overall health of those living in Wales, the Welsh Government issued a 'Quality of Food for all in Wales' strategic plan. It will aim to make it easy for people to make healthy, safe and affordable choices about the food they buy, cook and eat. It builds on the work to improve the quality and nutritional value of food available in schools through Appetite for Life and that available within Welsh hospitals. The Food Standards Agency has worked with food industry partners in Wales and across the UK to reformulate food to provide healthy choices and to introduce front of pack labelling so that it is easier for consumers to identify. This increased demand for healthy food and drink is creating a number of business opportunities for Welsh producers.
Public sector organisations should actively encourage improvements to diet and have a particular duty of care for vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, older people and those recovering in hospital. By improving physical and economic access to healthy food and support for community action, the public sector can play an important role in reducing the burdens on the NHS, tackling social disadvantage and specifically reducing food poverty.
There is a legal duty on some public sector bodies to address the impact of nutrition on health. Each Welsh Local Authority and Local Health Board must jointly prepare and implement a Health and Well-being Strategy for their area (section 24 of the National Health Service Reform and Healthcare Professions Act 2002). This strategy must address factors affecting the health and well-being of the local population, including health promotion, nutrition and the safety of food (regulation 5, the Health, Social Care and Well-being Strategies (Wales) Regulations 2003).
The attached document will assist you in successfully implementing an improved nutrition policy in food procurement.
Sustainable food procurement can have positive effects on the environment, economy and society.