June, 2024

UN expert calls for agreement to regulate unhealthy diets

GENEVA– Calling today for a new global agreement to regulate unhealthy diets, the United Nations expert on the right to food has urged swift action from governments to help change the way the world eats, as obesity-related health problems now kill more people than tobacco. 

Olivier De Schutter
Olivier De Schutter

“Unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, in a press release.

 “Just as the world came together to regulate the risks of tobacco, a bold framework convention on adequate diets must now be agreed,” he said in comments released ahead of today’s opening of the UN World Health Assembly, and on the eve of the 21 May event in Geneva organized by Consumers International to launch their new recommendations: Towards a Global Convention to Protect and Promote Healthy Diets. 

De Schutter recalled that, despite increasingly worrying signs and well-identified priority actions, the international community continues to pay insufficient attention to the worsening epidemic of obesity and unhealthy diets. 

Two years after his report on nutrition and the right to food, and a decade after the World Health Organization (WHO) launched its Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, he said, obesity continues to advance – and diabetes, heart disease and other health complications along with it. 
“The warning signs are not being heard,” he said. 

In his 2012 report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, De Schutter identified five priority actions to address obesity and unhealthy diets: taxing unhealthy products; regulating foods high in saturated fats, salt and sugar; cracking down on junk food advertising; overhauling misguided agricultural subsidies that make certain ingredients cheaper than others; and supporting local food production so consumers have access to healthy, fresh and nutritious foods.

“Governments should move forward with these measures, which are essential to ensure that people are protected from aggressive misinformation campaigns,” he said. “They are also crucial to implement the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent World Health Assembly recommendations,” he added. (QNA)

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