A picture of food consumption (availability) trends and projections to 2050, both globally and for different regions of the world, along with the drivers largely responsible for these observed consumption trends are the subject of this review. Throughout the world, major shifts in dietary patterns are occurring, even in the consumption of basic staples towards more diversified diets. Accompanying these changes in food consumption at a global and regional level have been considerable health consequences. Populations in those countries undergoing rapid transition are experiencing nutritional transition. The diverse nature of this transition may be the result of differences in socio-demographic factors and other consumer characteristics. Among other factors including urbanization and food industry marketing, the policies of trade liberalization over the past two decades have implications for health by virtue of being a factor in facilitating the 'nutrition transition' that is associated with rising rates of obesity and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Future food policies must consider both agricultural and health sectors, thereby enabling the development of coherent and sustainable policies that will ultimately benefit agriculture, human health and the environment.