Economic Sanctions Affecting Household Food and Nutrition Security and Policies to Cope With Them: A Systematic Review

Document Type : Review Article


1 Research Department of Food and Nutrition Policy and Planning, National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute, Faculty of Nutrition Sciences and Food Technology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Nutrition Research, National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute, Faculty of Nutrition Sciences and Food Technology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Community Nutrition, National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute, Faculty of Nutrition Sciences and Food Technology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Sciences, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

5 Department of Health Education and Promotion, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

6 Food, Halal and Agricultural Products Research Group, Research Center of Food Technology and Agricultural Products, Standard Research Institute, Karaj, Iran

7 Interdisciplinary Research and Practice Division, School of Health and Social Care, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


This review was conducted to identify the impact of economic sanctions on household food and nutrition security and policies to cope with them in countries exposed to sanctions.

The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines 2020 were used to identify, select, appraise, and synthesize studies. Electronic databases in addition to Persian ones have been systematically searched for all related documents published until March 2022. Exclusion criteria were: lack of data related to food insecurity in countries subject to sanction and very low quality of the article. The quality of included studies was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Critical Appraisal checklists. The results were presented as qualitative and quantitative syntheses.

Of 1428 identified studies, 36 publications remained in the review, which belong to Iran (n = 8), Cuba (n = 8), Russia (n = 7), Iraq (n = 7), and Haiti (n = 6), respectively. Declining gross domestic product (GDP), devaluation of the national currency, and the quality of food, increase in inflation, unemployment, and consumer prices, infant and under 5 years mortality, energy, and protein deficiency, and the poverty rate were reported as sanction consequences. The most important strategies to improve food security were the humanitarian assistance provided by the international community (Haiti), equity and priority for vulnerable groups mainly by expanding the healthcare system (Cuba), adopting a food ration system in the oil-for-food program, and fixing the price of food baskets (Iraq), import substitution and self-sufficiency (Russia), support domestic production, direct and indirect support and compensation packages for vulnerable households (the approach of resistance economy in Iran).

Due to the heterogeneity of studies, meta-analysis was not possible. Since inadequate physical and economic food access caused by sanctions affects especially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, planning to improve food security and providing support packages for these groups seems necessary.


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  • Receive Date: 02 May 2022
  • Revise Date: 07 May 2023
  • Accept Date: 16 July 2023
  • First Publish Date: 17 July 2023