WHO meets with food, beverage and producer Associations on diet and chronic diseases
Industry associations provide input to WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health
17 June 2003 - World Health Organization (WHO) officials met today in Geneva with representatives of some 30 food, beverage and producer associations to discuss ways of working together more effectively to encourage healthier diets and increased physical activity worldwide. The meeting is the last in a formal consultation process to develop input for the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. This process has included meetings in all six WHO regions with representatives from 81 of its Member States, as well as consultations with UN organizations and other intergovernmental agencies, civil society groups and private sector companies.
WHO is preparing the Global Strategy for presentation to the World Health Assembly in May 2004, in response to increasing Member State concern at the growing chronic disease problem. Cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, respiratory disease, obesity and other noncommunicable conditions now account for 59 per cent of the 56.5 million global deaths annually, and almost half, or 45.9 per cent, of the global burden of disease. The majority of chronic disease problems now occur in developing countries. Unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use are among the leading causes.
“This was a very useful and constructive meeting,” said Dr Derek Yach, WHO Executive Director, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. “We believe the industry is willing to work on raising consumer awareness of the need both for healthy, balanced diets, and for overall energy balance in terms of energy intake and physical activity.”
Commenting on criticism by some producer groups of the conclusions of the WHO/FAO joint report Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, which provides the evidence base for the Global Strategy, Dr Yach says “We are confident about the science on the contribution of nutrition – and especially the role of saturated fats, sugars and salt and excessive consumption – to the major chronic diseases.”
The Roundtable was attended by representatives of groups including Producteurs Laitiers du Canada, International Special Dietary Foods, International Tree Nut Council, International Sweeteners Association, Confederation Food & Drink Industries, National Food Processors Association, Int. Alliance Dietary/Food Supplement, Int. Federation Agricultural Producers,The Salt Institute, European Modern Restaurant Association, World Sugar Research Organization, Union of European Soft Drinks and Confederation of International Soft Drinks Associations, Comité Européen des Fabricants de Sucre, World Federation of Advertisers, European Salt Producers Association, NZO-Dutch Dairy Foundation, European Vending Association, British Nutrition Foundation, Australian Food and Grocery Council, Institute of Food Research, United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Confederation of Food & Drink Industries of the EU, European Food Law Association, International Soft Drinks Council (ISDC), World Self-Medication Industry, Internat. Fed. Agricultural Producers and the International Meat Secretariat.
WHO will post the recommendations from all its consultations on its web site, and will now focus on drafting the strategy, which will be made available for comment by all stakeholders before the end of the year.