INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support): overview and key principles
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Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) dominate disease burdens globally and poor nutrition increasingly contributes to this global burden. Comprehensive monitoring of food environments, and evaluation of the impact of public and private sector policies on food environments is needed to strengthen accountability systems to reduce NCDs. The International Network for Food and Obesity/NCDs Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS) is a global network of public-interest organizations and researchers that aims to monitor, benchmark and support public and private sector actions to create healthy food environments and reduce obesity, NCDs and their related inequalities. The INFORMAS framework includes two ‘process’ modules, that monitor the policies and actions of the public and private sectors, seven ‘impact’ modules that monitor the key characteristics of food environments and three ‘outcome’ modules that monitor dietary quality, risk factors and NCD morbidity and mortality. Monitoring frameworks and indicators have been developed for 10 modules to provide consistency, but allowing for stepwise approaches (‘minimal’, ‘expanded’, ‘optimal’) to data collection and analysis. INFORMAS data will enable benchmarking of food environments between countries, and monitoring of progress over time within countries. Through monitoring and benchmarking, INFORMAS will strengthen the accountability systems needed to help reduce the burden of obesity, NCDs and their related inequalities.