What Is a Nutrition Policy

Nutrition is the process whereby living organisms use food for maintenance of life, growth, the normal functioning of organs and tissues, and the production of energy. Human nutrition therefore encompasses food composition, food consumption, food habits, the nutritive value of foods, nutritional requirements, the relationship between diet and health, and research in all these fields. Diet in this context means the total solid and liquid foods consumed by an individual or a population group. Nutrition is therefore at the center of a web of a number of disciplines and so policy affecting nutrition involves many government sectors.

In the process of national policy formulation, various ministries and departments of the government (sectors) prepare programs for implementation during a specific plan period. Those aspects of the national policy that are specifically designed to improve the state of nutrition in a country are together defined as 'nutrition policy' or 'food and nutrition policy.'

In developing countries, national policies are published for each sector in periodic national development plans, usually every 5 years. In developed countries, they are formulated at irregular intervals within the term of office of the elected government. Nutrition does not usually constitute a separate sector and so aspects of nutrition policy appear under the policies of specific sectors, such as agricultural, food, health, education, and social welfare. These aspects are by no means comprehensive and during the stage of implementation are generally not coordinated through any official mechanism.

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