"Toward healthy, sustainable and equitable global food systems: Is the global food supply aligned with healthy eating guidelines?" with Tarra Penney

When and Where

Monday, November 30, 2020 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm


Dr Tarra Penney, Department of Psychology, York University


The creation of food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) by national governments has been advocated by FAO/WHO since 1998 to support healthy diets and prevent non-communicable disease at the population level. FBDGs may impact population-level dietary intake through multiple pathways, settings standards and influencing practice for individuals, industry and governments. While there has been a call for food systems to support adherence to FBDGs at the population level, little is known about the alignment between existing food supplies and FBDGs. The work presented in this seminar has examined whether the global food supply aligns with FBDGs including historical trends of alignment and divergence over the past 52 years. A descriptive time series analysis of an indicator for alignment was derived using FAOSTAT food balance sheets and FBDGs at both the global and country-level from 1961 to 2013. Results suggest that food supplies are not aligned with national and international FBDGs, and this misalignment has persisted across five decades with a few notable exceptions. This work also demonstrates the utility of a measure of food supply alignment with guidelines, which could support the surveillance and evaluation of future policies to support the transition to healthy, sustainable food systems.

Speaker Bio

Tarra L Penney, PhD is an assistant professor of food, systems and policy evaluation in the School of Global Health, an investigator with the Global Strategy Lab, a member of the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University and a visiting researcher at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK. She has worked with national and international organisations in the area of food system transition including Cambridge Global Food Security, an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Cambridge, the Global Food Security Programme in London, UK and the WHO European office.

Dr. Penney returns to Canada after serving as a Research Associate at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK supporting the system level evaluation of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, a nation-wide policy to reduce sugar in soft drinks by targeting importers and manufacturers. She completed her PhD at the same department in preventive medicine and epidemiology with a focus on local food availability and population level diet and obesity prevention, funded by the Cambridge Trusts. Prior to her PhD, she studied cognitive psychology and computer science, completed a CIHR funded Master’s degree in health promotion, and published in the area of obesity prevention with a focus on population health intervention research as a Research Associate at the Healthy Populations Institute, Dalhousie University, Canada.  

This is a School of Cities Seminar Series "Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains"

Supply chains are the primary societal infrastructure for the production, delivery, and recycling of goods and services. Though sometimes invisible, supply chains are the systems that ensure that flour is available in your grocery store, that hospitals have sufficient personal protective equipment, and that there are enough trained staff to administer medical tests, deliver babies, and check-out your groceries. While much of the effort in supply chains over the past 50 years has been to make them agile, fast, and cheap, there is a growing realization that supply chains must be able to adapt to disruptions from local events such as the inability for a plane to land due to weather to global changes such as the closing of the US-Canada border due to COVID-19.

This seminar series seeks to develop a multi-disciplinary understanding of resilient supply chains by examining two which are of critical importance to everyday life: food and health supply chains. The talks in this series look at these supply chains, both independently and together, through the inclusion of diverse speakers representing at least the following perspectives:

  • Supply Chain Optimization 
  • Northern and Remote Food and Health Security
  • Urban Food Systems
  • Systems of Food Production
  • Healthcare Systems

Register here

This is a School of Cities Seminar Series "Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains"