BACKGROUND: Sustainable healthy diets are those dietary patterns that promote all dimensions of individuals' health and well-being; have low environmental pressure and impact; are accessible, affordable, safe, and equitable; and are culturally acceptable. The food environment, defined as the interface between the wider food system and consumer's food acquisition and consumption, is critical for ensuring equitable access to foods that are healthy, safe, affordable, and appealing.
DISCUSSION: Current food environments are creating inequities, and sustainable healthy foods are generally more accessible for those of higher socioeconomic status. The physical, economic, and policy components of the food environment can all be acted on to promote sustainable healthy diets. Physical spaces can be modified to improve relative availability (ie, proximity) of food outlets that carry nutritious foods in low-income communities; to address economic access certain actions may improve affordability, such as fortification, preventing food loss through supply chain improvements; and commodity specific vouchers for fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Other policy actions that address accessibility to sustainable healthy foods are comprehensive marketing restrictions and easy-to-understand front-of-pack nutrition labels. While shaping food environments will require concerted action from all stakeholders, governments and private sector bear significant responsibility for ensuring equitable access to sustainable healthy diets.