Sri Lankan Healthy Food Environment Policy Index

The first Sri Lankan Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) will be conducted with a panel of independent and government public health experts in Sri Lanka in 2021.

The Food-EPI Sri Lanka study is the first of its kind to benchmark the government’s level of support for improving the healthiness of the food environment against international best practice.

Food-EPI Sri Lanka is led by Dr Renuka Jayatissa, Head of the Department of Nutrition, Medical Research Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Prof. Anuradhani Kasturiratne, University of Kelaniya; collaborators from the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka, Dr Himali Herath and Dr. Nalinda Wellapulli and Dr. Elisa Pineda from the Centre of Health Economics and Policy Innovation and the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

INFORMAS Network

Food-EPI is an initiative of the INFORMAS Network (International Network for Food and Obesity/NCDs Research, Monitoring and Action Support) and its implementation in Sri Lanka will help identify, monitor, and benchmark food policies in comparison to international best practices.

These actions are imperative to create food environments that foster healthy living and improve nutritional health for the prevention of obesity and non-communicable diseases. Thus, a concerted effort by policy makers to develop robust policies is necessary to reverse the trend of deterioration of the food environments in Sri Lanka and transition towards healthier food environments for all.

Importance of implementing Food-EPI in Sri Lanka

Governments worldwide recognise the importance of a good diet for health and wellbeing and the prevention of chronic disease, including obesity. The prevalence of obesity, particularly amongst children, represents one of the biggest public health challenges globally. In Sri Lanka, 34% of adults struggle with overweight or obesity. Supporting and encouraging people to respond more healthily to an environment which promotes obesity is essential to reduce the burden of disease and adverse economic costs associated with obesity.

It is well established that food choices are heavily influenced by the food environment. One of the main drivers of the obesity epidemic has been identified as the food system which includes increased supply of cheap, palatable, energy dense foods; increased food mobility leading to increased distributions and convenience and more persuasive and pervasive food marketing.

Monitoring the level of implementation of government food policies and benchmarking against international best practice is imperative for progress towards better nutritional health and to create food environments that foster healthy living and address the specific needs of vulnerable groups in Ireland. Thus, a concerted effort by policy makers to develop robust policies is necessary to reverse the trend of deterioration of our food environments and move to establishing healthier food environments for all.

Collaborating researchers and institutions

  • Dr Renuka Jayatissa, Head of the Department of Nutrition, Medical Research Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Dr Himali Herath, Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka
  • Dr Nalinda Wellapulli, Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka
  • Dr Anuradhani Kasturiratne, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
  • Dr Prasad Katulanda, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Dr Elisa Pineda, Imperial College London
  • Dr Dian Kusuma, Imperial College London
  • Dr Marisa Miraldo, Imperial College London
  • Prof Franco Sassi, Imperial College London
  • Prof Gary Frost, Imperial College London
  • Prof John Chambers, Imperial College London
  • Dr Stefanie Vandevijvere, INFORMAS, Sciensano