CONSUMERS INTERNATIONAL (CI) and the World Obesity Federation (WOF) are calling for the food industry to be regulated in a similar way to the tobacco industry as obesity poses a greater threat to health than cigarettes, they claim.
The two international groups are asking the international community to adopt more stringent rules for food and drink and help develop a global convention to fight diet-related ill health, similar to the legal framework for tobacco control.
Both organisations have urged governments to impose compulsory rules for food and drink to help consumers make healthier choices and improve nutrition. Measures may include placing stricter controls on food marketing, improving the provision of nutrition information, requiring reformulation of unhealthy food products and improving food served in hospitals and schools.
Consumers International Director General, Amanda Long says: “The scale of the impact of unhealthy food on consumer health is comparable to the impact of cigarettes. The food and beverage industry has dragged its feet on meaningful change and governments have felt unable or unwilling to act.
“The only answer remaining for the global community is a framework convention and we urge governments to seriously consider our recommendations for achieving that. If they do not, we risk decades of obstruction from industry and a repeat of the catastrophic global health crisis caused by smoking.”
The call to action from CI and WOF comes after they reported that global deaths due to obesity and being overweight rose from 2.6 million in 2005 to 3.4 million in 2010.
World Obesity Federation Director of Policy, Dr Tim Lobstein says: “The global prevalence of obesity - defined as a BMI ≥30 - doubled between 1980 and 2008, to 10% of all men worldwide, and 14% of all women.
“These figures show the scale of the problem to be addressed. If obesity was an infectious disease we would have seen billions of dollars being invested in bringing it under control. Governments need to take collective action and a Framework Convention offers them the chance to do this.”
The two international membership bodies will officially launch their ‘Recommendations Towards a Global Convention to Protect and Promote Healthy Diets’ at the World Health Assembly in Geneva this week.
Publication of the Recommendations comes on the 10th anniversary of the World Health Organisations ‘Global Strategy on Diet and Physical Activity and Healthy’, which recognised the health impact of unhealthy diet and lifestyle.