International · Law · International norms

Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food


The report reiterates the importance of a rights-based approach to “adequate food”, and highlights that unhealthy diets are a form of malnutrition


The interim report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food issued in 2016 focuses on the meaning of “adequate food” under Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. For the purposes of FULL, it is notable that the report highlights that unhealthy diets are a form of malnutrition. Specifically, the report states that:

“Malnutrition includes undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency and conditions associated with excess intake and nutritional imbalance” (para 6).

”  ‘Unbalanced nutrition’ occurs when the body is exposed to too much dietary energy and leads to overweight and obesity. It may result from eating too much or too many of the wrong things, as well as insufficient exercise, and can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and diet-related cancers” (para 8)

The report mentions several of the measures for unhealthy diets covered by FULL to address the underlying determinants of malnutrition: front-of-pack labeling (para 76); restrictions on food marketing targeted at children (para 79); school meals programs, bans on vending machines in schools, bans on unhealthy foods in schools or in their proximity (para 80); taxes on unhealthy foods and on sugar-sweetened beverages (para 84); subsidies for healthy foods (para 86).