Table 5

Prominent belief systems skewing nutrition responses and undermining commitment

Belief systemReinforcing or associated factors
Neoliberalism: an ideology emphasising market freedom, minimal government intervention, devolved governance including ‘self-governance’ by the individual and an expanded role for market actors in all spheres of political, economic and social activity.73 82Behavioural-lifestyle approaches to nutrition that download responsibility onto individuals or parents rather than powerful governments and/or food industry actors28 32 35 56 73 82; an expanded role for the private sector in policy and governance28 35 73 82; belief that government should have no or only a minimal role in regulating free markets and enterprise28 35 73 81 83; deregulation agendas within government including regulatory impact assessments (ie, assessing new regulatory proposals for costs to business) with stringent evidential requirements.80 81
Nutricentrism: a curative, biomedical or nutrient-centric view of nutrition emphasising nutrition-specific or reductionist interventions to the neglect of integrated, preventative or nutrition-sensitive ones.38 44 52 53 61Placement of nutrition within ministries of health resulting in an overemphasis on nutrition-specific programming38 44 52 61 63; prevailing narratives at international level (ie, nutrition faddism) narrowing the scope of national nutrition responses (eg, overemphasis on micronutrients)31; civil society groups becoming fixated on single issues and presenting ideological resistant to alternatives27 38; generally, an overly technical or reductionist approach to nutrition disconnected from the messiness of real decision-making, particularly when nutrition actors failed to manage conflicts arising from divergent values, perspectives or interests of a non-technical nature.12 24 27 37
Food-centrism: the conflation of ‘malnutrition with lack of food’.31 pS62 Also described as the ’conflation of food security with nutrition security' or the conflation of a ‘commitment to fight hunger with combatting undernutrition’.13p280Focusing events (eg, drought, famine, economic crises) that stimulated and institutionalised food distribution and emergency food responses at the expense of long-term development nutrition26 52 61; when food distribution and/or food pricing was an entrenched political issue (ie, when perceived as a ‘vote-winner’ or food insecurity as driving political instability), and when food distribution schemes were highly institutionalised and resistant to change (ie, path dependent)27 31 38 39 45 70; when food systems were orientated towards the production and distribution of single commodities (eg, rice in Bangladesh, maize in Zambia) thus creating powerful electoral constituencies resisting nutrition-sensitive policy change52 61 70; overemphasis on agricultural commercialisation, cash-cropping and/or export markets (ie, productivism) to the neglect of local social considerations and nutritional needs.61 89