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Balancing the benefits and risks of public–private partnerships to address the global double burden of malnutrition

  • Vivica I Kraak (a1), Paige B Harrigan (a2), Mark Lawrence (a3), Paul J Harrison (a4), Michaela A Jackson (a5) and Boyd Swinburn (a6)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 13 October 2011

Transnational food, beverage and restaurant companies, and their corporate foundations, may be potential collaborators to help address complex public health nutrition challenges. While UN system guidelines are available for private-sector engagement, non-governmental organizations (NGO) have limited guidelines to navigate diverse opportunities and challenges presented by partnering with these companies through public–private partnerships (PPP) to address the global double burden of malnutrition.


We conducted a search of electronic databases, UN system websites and grey literature to identify resources about partnerships used to address the global double burden of malnutrition. A narrative summary provides a synthesis of the interdisciplinary literature identified.


We describe partnership opportunities, benefits and challenges; and tools and approaches to help NGO engage with the private sector to address global public health nutrition challenges. PPP benefits include: raising the visibility of nutrition and health on policy agendas; mobilizing funds and advocating for research; strengthening food-system processes and delivery systems; facilitating technology transfer; and expanding access to medications, vaccines, healthy food and beverage products, and nutrition assistance during humanitarian crises. PPP challenges include: balancing private commercial interests with public health interests; managing conflicts of interest; ensuring that co-branded activities support healthy products and healthy eating environments; complying with ethical codes of conduct; assessing partnership compatibility; and evaluating partnership outcomes.


NGO should adopt a systematic and transparent approach using available tools and processes to maximize benefits and minimize risks of partnering with transnational food, beverage and restaurant companies to effectively target the global double burden of malnutrition.

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