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Food Policy Program

The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Food Policy Program has committed over $435 million to help public health advocates and experts promote healthier diets through policy change. This is an urgent global challenge: 8 million deaths are attributed to poor diets annually. Between 1990 and 2019, there was a 128% increase in mortality from being overweight. The good news is that the problem is preventable — and Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting the enactment and evaluation of policy efforts that aim to move people toward healthier diets in cities and countries around the world. The program focuses its work in Brazil, the Caribbean (Jamaica & Barbados), Colombia, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States, all of which have high rates of obesity and are taking action. Additionally, the program supports the evaluation of promising policies in other low- and middle-income countries.

Podcast

Why food is political and how COVID-19 has exposed the need to create a healthier and more socially just food system

Building on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ extensive experience in tobacco control, the Food Policy Program works with civil society organizations and research institutions to promote strong, new policies supported by the best available evidence, including:

  • Raising taxes on sugary beverages and junk food
  • Limiting children’s and adolescents’ exposure to unhealthy food and beverage marketing through comprehensive marketing bans
  • Promoting healthy food policies for the public sector, especially schools
  • Introducing understandable and informative front-of-package nutrition labels

The program invests in rigorous evaluation of policies and programs once they are implemented. Ultimately, effective policies can be replicated in cities, states, and countries around the world.

To deepen impact and enhance existing work, the program has expanded to include new elements:

  • Rapid response grants to support the adoption of healthy food policies in low- and middle-income countries
  • A Legal Defense Fund to help governments defend strong, evidence-based healthy food measures against legal challenges brought by well-resourced companies or industry bodies
  • Establishment of the Global Center for Legal Innovation on Food Environments at Georgetown Law School’s O’Neill Institute to help build capacity in healthy food law and provide legal support to countries
  • A Healthy Food Policy Fellowship to support future leaders in building research and legal capacity in focus countries

Approach

Raising Awareness:

To date, our program partners have created and launched 19 evidence-based media campaigns reaching 89 million people. The campaigns educate the public and policy makers on the negative health impact of sugary beverages and junk food and on potential policy solutions. Our partners are driving public discussion about diet-related diseases and healthy food policy solutions. To date, their efforts have resulted in thousands of related media stories.

Policy Change:

Our partners are advocating for policy changes that aim to reduce consumer demand for unhealthy foods and beverages, improve the food environment, and make healthier choices easier for everyone.

Conducting Groundbreaking Research:

Studies conducted by our partners are generating new evidence around the economic and health impacts of sugary beverage taxation and the magnitude of children’s exposure to food and beverage advertising. As new policies are implemented, our partners will evaluate their impact.

Top photo: Students in Mexico City benefit from new water fountains thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropes efforts to reduce sugary beverage consumption.

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