UN: Unhealthy Diets Are A Greater Threat Than Tobacco

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The United Nations says unhealthy diets pose as a greater threat than sale of tobacco. The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter has called for a new global agreement to regulate unhealthy diets.

“Unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco. 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 a statement issued on the opening of the annual summit of the World Health Organisation (WHO), on Monday, governments were called upon to move fast to tax harmful food products.

De Schutter called for efforts to launch negotiations on a global pact to tackle the obesity epidemic.

He said 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.

“It has been two years since my report on nutrition and the right to food, and ten years since the World Health Organization (WHO) launched its Global Strategy on Diet Physical Activity and Health. Yet obesity continues to advance – and diabetes, heart disease and other health complications along with it. The warning signs are not being heard,” De Schutter said.

In his 2012 report, he identified five priority actions to address the issues of obesity and unhealthy diets including to tax unhealthy products, regulate foods high in saturated fats, salt and sugar, crack down on junk food advertising, overhaul misguided agricultural subsidies that make certain ingredients cheaper than others; and to support local food production so that consumers have access to healthy, fresh and nutritious foods.

“Attempts to promote healthy diets will only work if the food systems underpinning them are put right,” he added.

Today, Consumers International will launch their new recommendations: ‘Towards a Global Convention to Protect and Promote Healthy Diets.’

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