The Nutrition Transition and Beyond: Dietary Change in the World since 1945

The Nutrition Transition and Beyond: Dietary Change in the World since 1945

Fernando Collantes, University of Zaragoza (Spain) & Ernst Langthaler, Johannes Kepler University Linz (Austria)
Rural History 2019
Vom - Bis
10.09.2019 - 13.09.2019
Ernst Langthaler

We would like to propose a session on dietary change since 1945 for the upcoming Rural History 2019 conference of the EURHO (Paris, 10-13 September 2019, As a preparation, we are happy to issue now this informal call for papers.

We would like to shape the session around three topics:

(1) Major trends in food consumption in the world since 1945: all across the world, diets have been changing rapidly and profoundly in the period from 1945 to the present. In the global North, the postwar decades witnessed the rise of the “Western diet” rich in processed foodstuffs (meat, vegetable oils, sugar etc.) and the culmination of the “classical” period of the nutrition transition, while the last few decades have featured a turn towards differentiated products and qualitative substitutions (“food from nowhere” – “food from somewhere”). In the global South, some traits of a nutrition transition can be detected, but such transition seems to be unfolding in ways that do not necessarily mimic those of the global North at an earlier stage. One major area of interest for us is the measurement, description and identification of these major trends.

(2) Causes of diet Change: changes in food consumption seem to be partly related to economic factors, such as the evolution of consumer income and food prices. These in turn connect the analysis of diet change to broader issues of economic growth, inequality and food chain dynamics. Yet, few would dispute that these economic variables exert their impact within specific political, social and cultural contexts (patriotic campaigns, social movements, religious norms etc.), the study of which is essential to our understanding of the causes of diet change. We particularly welcome analyses of the causes of diet change that aim at capturing this interplay of economic, political, social and cultural elements.

(3) Consequences of diet Change: the most immediate impact of diet change has to do with consumer health. There is now widespread concern about the negative consequences of excessive, unhealthy food consumption styles in the global North, as well as an increasing awareness of the role of food security in human development in the global South. Yet, there are other, indirect consequences of diet change, such as those that impact on the environment or on social cohesion. Diet change since 1945 has probably contributed to intensifying the food system’s impact on the environment, but there are also signs of increasing consumer interest in organic, seasonal and regional foods. The nutrition transition probably contributes in the long run to the making of a middle-class, mass consumer society, but the more recent turn towards differentiated foods and qualitative substitutions may well have started a new cycle of class-based differentiation.

We welcome paper proposals on these three areas, broadly defined. Interdisciplinary, cross-country analyses will be very well received, but we are also interested in papers that provide in-depth accounts of particular products and countries. Papers that are explicitly framed within theoretical perspectives from the social sciences are encouraged, but other papers will be considered as well.

If you want to join us for this session, please send us a title and a short abstract of about 200 words to our email addresses: and

The deadline for this is 28 September 2018. Please realize that, in case that our session proposal is accepted, preference will be given to those of you who join us at this early stage.



Ernst Langthaler
Johannes Kepler University Linz
Department of Social and Economic History
Altenberger Straße 69
4040 Linz, Austria