Benchmarking policy goals and actions for healthy food environments in Ethiopia to prevent malnutrition in all its forms using document analysis

Ursula Trübswasser*, Jeroen Candel, Tirsit Genye, Anne Bossuyt, Michelle Holdsworth, Kaleab Baye, Elise Talsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective Unhealthy diets resulting in overweight and obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases are of increasing concern in Ethiopia, alongside persistent undernutrition, and have been linked to unhealthy food environments. Little is known about the policy response to unhealthy food environments in Ethiopia. The objective of this study was to assess how different food environment domains have been addressed in Ethiopian policy goals and action over time and how this compares with global good practice benchmarks. Setting Ethiopia. Primary and secondary outcome measures We analysed intentions and plans of the government to act, using policy documents (outputs of decision-making in the form of published strategies, plans or policies) related to improving diets and nutritional status through healthy food environments in Ethiopia between 2008 and 2020. Our coding framework was guided by the policy component (n=7 domains) of the Healthy Food-Environment Policy Index, which was modified to include food quality and safety as an eighth domain. Results From the 127 policy outputs identified, 38 were retained, published by 9 different government ministries and institutions. Our results show that eight food environment domains have been addressed to some extent, but gaps remain compared with global best practice, especially in food promotion, processing, retail, price and trade. From 2018, policy began to embrace the wider food system, with more explicit food environment interventions becoming apparent. Conclusions Policy efforts achieved in food safety, food processing, marketing and labelling are important stepping stones to building future policy actions addressing the food environment domains of food retail, food provision and food trade. Benchmarking of food environment policy actions should also consider actions on food fortification, agro-processing and informal markets in the context of multiple forms of malnutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere058480
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2022


  • health policy
  • nutrition & dietetics
  • public health


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