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Effective policies to promote healthier diets and prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) require multi-sectoral engagement with areas "upstream" of the point of consumption. Agriculture is a critical entry point to nutrition. Strong and consistent global evidence is now available to highlight the importance of "prudent" diets in preventing NCDs like cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and cancer as well as reducing risk factors like high blood pressure and overweight-obesity. Agricultural policies can enable access to and affordability of such diets to all populations, by ensuring the availability of health promoting dietary components such as healthy edible oils, fruit and vegetables, nuts and fish, in an equitable manner across the world.

Food systems are one of the critical, if under-recognized, domains for policy actions to promote higher quality diets and prevent NCDs. Effectively leveraging food systems for NCD prevention will require "policy coherence." Coherent policies - and associated incentives - would better enable the long and complex food value chains so central to NCDs to operate synergistically to achieve the goal of a healthy food environment, in which food availability, affordability and acceptability are conducive to high quality diets.

The focus on policy coherence is important for NCDs since policies are a critical determinant of the decisions made by actors in long food value chains - they create incentives and disincentives which affect the choices these actors make about the production, composition, pricing and sale of food products. Moreover, policies can create large-scale change, and thus influence what entire populations consume.

The first step in achieving coherence is to build evidence through the analysis of food supply and value chains. The research most critically needed to develop a useful evidence base is analysis to identify: (i) the incentives and disincentives faced by the actors in the food value chain that influence what they produce and sell; (ii) if and how these incentives are influenced by policy; (iii) if there is policy coherence or incoherence; and, ultimately (iv) the effective policy levers to create healthier value chains.

This session will: (a) profile the growing global burden of NCDs; (b) review evidence linking nutrition to major NCDs; (c) delineate pathways and processes through which agriculture and food systems can become better aligned to nutrition goals; and (d) identify priorities for generation and translation of knowledge which will enable such alignment and reduce the NCD burden.