Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

No evidence that voluntary actions by the food and beverage industry can safeguard public health

A realist review of 20 voluntary actions by the food and beverage industry in low- and middle-income countries analyses the implications of these actions for public health and policy. This realist review reveals that voluntary actions often aim to protect industry interests rather than improve public health.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: The conceptual framework used to examine the effect of VAs.


  1. Qiao, J. et al. Global burden of non-communicable diseases attributable to dietary risks in 1990–2019. J. Hum. Nutr. Diet. 35, 202–213 (2022). A burden-of-disease study that presents the effects of dietary risks for NCDs on mortality and disability-adjusted life-years worldwide.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Building Momentum: Lessons on Implementing Evidence-informed Nutrition Policy (World Cancer Research Fund International, 2020); report that describes evidence-informed nutrition polices, their implementation and the effect of the outlined NCD policies.

  3. Moodie, R. et al. Ultra-processed profits: the political economy of countering the global spread of ultra-processed foods – a synthesis review on the market and political practices of transnational food corporations and strategic public health responses. Int. J. Health Policy Manag. 10, 968–982 (2021). This review provides an invaluable insight into how the market strategies and political practices of the food and beverage industry drive the NCD pandemic in middle-income countries.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. Pawson, R. et al. Realist review — a new method of systematic review designed for complex policy interventions. J. Health Serv. Res. Policy 10, 21–34 (2005). This article describes the realist review methodology used in our research.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Erzse, A. et al. Availability and advertising of sugar sweetened beverages in South African public primary schools following a voluntary pledge by a major beverage company: a mixed methods study. Glob. Health Action 14, 1898130 (2021). This article demonstrates the lack of public health evidence to support a VA by a large beverage company in South Africa.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This is a summary of: Erzse, A. et al. A realist review of voluntary actions by the food and beverage industry and implications for public health and policy in low- and middle-income countries. Nat. Food (2022).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

No evidence that voluntary actions by the food and beverage industry can safeguard public health. Nat Food 3, 573–574 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing