The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 14, Number 2, 2015

ISSN 1602-2297

Dietary GUIDelines: Nutritional Health Communication versus Sustainable
Food Policy

Erling Jelsøe, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Denmark,

Abstract: Dietary guidelines are issued regularly in most developed countries. In almost all cases they are concerned solely with the nutritional aspects of food and eating and are based on an understanding of food exclusively as a source of nutrients. In recent years, however, a growing number of proposals in a number of countries have addressed the issue of making dietary guidelines that integrate health and sustainability, but in all cases they have been met with different kinds of resistance. This article reviews the development towards an integrated understanding of health and sustainability in relation to food and eating and the emergence of proposals for integrated guidelines. It explores the conflicts and controversies that have arisen in the wake of the various proposals and identifies a number of different types of conflicts. These relate to conflicts of interests between the various actors involved and political resistance against initiatives that are perceived as being in conflict with the values of a market economy and free trade. Furthermore, there are controversies that can be broadly characterised as relating to the politics of knowledge and have to do with the differentiation of expertise and the role of expert cultures for the elaboration and communication of messages about health and sustainability. Finally, the article briefly points to some answers to the complexity of issues surrounding the creation of dietary guidelines.

Key words: dietary guidelines, food and sustainability, knowledge policy, nutrition, health communication

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