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Sustainability Resource Guide: Health and Wellbeing

Information about sustainability resources, events and activities at Newcastle University: a collaborative guide from NIReS and the University Library


Image of people eating healthy food

Heath and sustainability are inextricably linked and can have both a positive and negative affect on each other. " Health is a product of sustainable development, and improvements in health, and indeed health services contribute to sustainable development" (World Health Organisation, 2002, p31).

Image: USDA (2016) Available at: 

Quality of Life

Growing Population 

growing population may cause many social and environmental problems in the future. What are the best ways to reduce the rate of population growth and are we too late to implement them?

UN Website I Feed 

Maps of percentage of population aged 60 years or older in 2000, 2015 and 2050

(Source: United Nations (2015). World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision )


To meet the challenge of providing the worlds' growing population, the UK's main public funders of food-related research and training are working together through the Global Food Security programme to secure supply good quality food from less land and with lower inputs to achieve sustainable practices within the limits of their own. 

Click on the links below for more specific information on aspects of sustainable food.

Global Pandemic 

A pandemic is an outbreak of infectious disease or virus that has spread through human populations across a large region. Where a deadly outbreak can not be controlled, it is possible that society could crumble.


(Image: "Cuboid Sugar" by Carioca (Self-published work by Carioca) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Recent papers have linked the obesity epidemic to the increase of sugar in food. What is the evidence of the link and why are the sugar manufacturers refuting the evidence?

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat begins to have a negative effect on health. With some organisations beginning to call obesity a disease, is there a cure to the epidemic?

NHS help website defining obesity and detailing treatments and causes.


(Source: (Alzheimer's Society, 2012), URL: 

People in the UK are living longer, increasing their risk of developing brain disease. Nearly half of people over 85 suffer with a form of dementia and scientists are still unsure of the causes.

Drug Abuse/ Alcoholism costs the tax payer millions of pounds a year on health care and policing. What are the potential solutions to the problems and are they sustainable?

In recent years, Technology has been the solution to providing convenience and accessibility in the production of goods or services.  From industrial items to local commodities, consumers now have access to a warehouse of new informational outlets, those data can be stored and used to help in providing sustainable solutions


(Image: "Fh-consulting-expertise-negocios-sucesso-gestao-empresarial-metodologia" by FH Consultoria (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

OECD Website

Image of better life index

  • Mapping Well - Being shows which topics are most important to people around the world. 
    Image: Da Cunha Pime, G,  OECD (2011) Available at:
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Food Production

When one organism of a higher trophic level consumes an organism which has itself absorbed pesticides directly from crops, biomagnification occurs. When the higher organism absorbs more toxic chemicals than it's metabolism can degrade, bioaccumulation occurs, in some cases causing death.

Entomophagy is the consumption of insects as a food source. This may not be as taboo as it sounds - insects contain all the nutrients required for healthy human growth and require fewer resources and space to farm.

Factory Farmer Craig Watts raised chickens for 22 years for Perdue, USA. He invited Compassion USA, as farm animal welfare advocates, to his farm to film and tell his story, as he share his breaking point. With an increase in demand for meat and a decrease in the land available to cultivate animals, intensive animal farming is required to industrialise meat production. How do ethical issues of animal welfare relate to meat prices?

In traditional farming, the only way to increase crop yield is fortification of soil with nutrients. Fertilisers, whether organic or chemical based, provide the extra nutrients required for a healthy increase in growth.

Genetically engineered organisms can be designed to be disease resistant or grow to a higher yield. Is the process dangerous?

Growing plants without soil is one way to increase efficiency of crop cultivation. Aqueous nutrients are fed to the plants' roots by a network of tubing. What are the benefits and future of this technology?

The current technology of producing meat in a laboratory may be limited, but as the technology overcomes the upscaling obstacles, will we all be eating cultured beef burgers in the future?

Unsustainable fishing sees fish stocks depleting to a level which causes upset of entire marine ecosystems. Not only does it affect higher organisms numbers but may see the price of fish increase to a point where it is off the menu. With global fish stocks on the verge of collapse, corporations are turning to the Pacific to catch the last abundant fish. But it's a trend destroying the livelihood of locals. 

The Case for Fish Farming 

Mike Velings highlighted that the world is heading towards a global food crisis, 3 billion people depend on the ocean for food, and the world has already take more fish from the ocean than it can naturally replace. Echoing Jacques Cousteau, Mike proposed people to start using the "ocean as farmers instead of hunters", and believed that "the day will come where people will demand farmed fish on their plates that are famed well and healthy - and refuse anything less." 

Organic Food

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Food Distribution

Fair trading aims to give producers in developing countries a 'fair' price for their exports. But with supermarkets generating profits for shareholders, the issues affect producers in MEDC's too. Does fair trade work and what can be done in the future?

It is important that food packaging is used to keep food fresh for as long as possible to reduce food waste. Is the need for aesthetics to advertise food leading to damage to the environment?

One fifth of what households buy ends up as waste, and around 60% of that could have been eaten. What can be done to reduce household food waste and are the consumers the only ones at fault?

Countries with little land available to grow food for their population must import food to meet demand. With the cost of food increasing across the planet, is this sustainable?

With a recent documentary revealing how supermarkets are able to stock fruit and vegatables all year round using cold storage, is mass hibernation of our perishable groceries the best way to reduce the amount of food we import?

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A Social Network for Health

HealthUnlocked allows people to take on their day to day health concerns together, and because HealthUnlocked communities are set up by leading health organisations, people can have access to credible support. 


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