Global food and soft drinks industries must demonstrate their commitment towards promoting the health and wellbeing of their consumers

A positive step has been made towards action being taken to curb the rising diabetes and obesity epidemics, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) said as it welcomed the endorsement of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health by Health Ministers last weekend in Geneva.

The strategy calls for limits on the amount of sugar, fats, and salt in diets, the adoption of marketing and food policies that encourage the consumption of healthier foods, and the implementation of strategies that promote increased physical activity. The need for this strategy was never more urgent as a major global epidemic of overweight and obesity is affecting both the developed and developing world. The International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) estimates that up to 1.7 billion of the world’s population is currently at a heightened risk of weight-related non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.
Diabetes currently affects over 190 million people worldwide and IDF estimates that this figure will increase to 333 million by 2025. Over three million deaths are attributable to diabetes every year, IDF and WHO warned recently in a joint report. Even more worrying is the appearance of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. Until recently, the disease had been more frequently associated with adults and the elderly. According to the IOTF, one in three children born in the USA today is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, of which obesity is the main modifiable risk factor.

“This is an issue that no country can afford to ignore”, declared IDF President Prof Pierre Lefèbvre, adding that, “children worldwide are following a similar pattern to that in the USA. Strong measures are needed to combat these epidemics, including restrictions on marketing targeted at children, a shift of emphasis away from the dominance of fats and added sugars in diet, towards a greater consumption of fruit and vegetables, and efforts to encourage greater physical activity in everyday life.”

In a joint statement delivered during the World Health Assembly in conjunction with the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) and the International Pediatric Association, with backing from the World Heart Federation and the International Union of Nutritional Sciences, IDF stressed that national governments must be encouraged to initiate and implement the necessary preventative measures, and the global food and soft drinks industries must demonstrate their commitment towards promoting the health and wellbeing of their consumers.


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