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Obesity worse than tobacco, global pact needed

By Peter Hulm

The U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food says "unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco."

Belgian professor Olivier De Schutter called on 19 May 2014 for action in his 2012 proposal for "a bold framework convention on adequate diets".. His earlier report to the Human Rights Council identified five priority actions:

He was speaking on the eve of a 21 May event organized by Consumers International to launch their effort to obtain a convention embodying these concepts.

Half of all European adults overweight

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 50% of all men and women In Europe were overweight in 2008, and 23% of all women and 20% of men were clinically obese.

World Obesity Federation Director of Policy Dr Tim Lobstein says: "The global prevalence of obesity - defined as a BMI [body mass index]≥30 - doubled between 1980 and 2008, to 10% of all men worldwide, and 14% of all women. That’s 205 million men and 297 million women - more than half a billion obese people. In terms of numbers, the United States has led the way, but they are closely followed by China, Brazil and Mexico."

"The warning signs are not being heard," De Schutter complained.Attempts to promote healthy diets will only work if the food systems underpinning them are put right,” he added. “Governments have been focusing on increasing calorie availability, but they have often been indifferent to what kind of calories are on offer, at what price, to whom they are made available, and how they are marketed,”

Sources

srfood: 19 May 2014

De Schutter's report (pdf): 2012

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