“Unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco,” said U.N. Special Reporter on the Right to Food, Oliver De Schutter. “Just as the world came together to regulate the risks of tobacco, a bold framework convention on adequate diets must now be agreed.”
In May, 2014 at the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, WHO Director General Margaret Chan announced the creation of a Commission for Ending Childhood Obesity.
In 2012 alone, over 40 million children younger than 5 years old were considered to be overweight. Thirty million of these children live in developing countries. In addition, about 3.4 million adults die due to obesity each year. Furthermore, 7-41 percent of specific cancers and 44 percent of diabetes cases are due to obesity.
Around 1.7 millions deaths are due to low consumption of fruits and vegetables. Eating enough fruits and vegetables has been linked to reducing the chances of heart disease and stomach and colorectal cancers. In addition, compared to the recommended intake of five grams of salt per day, the average global consumption of salt is between nine and 12 grams, thus greatly increasing the chance of heart diseases.
In developing countries with growing economies, citizens have developed a less-active lifestyle and less healthy eating habits.
Schutter offered five potential solutions to the growing epidemic of obesity and unhealthy lifestyles:
- Imposing a tax on unhealthy foods
- Imposing regulations for foods with high contents of saturated fats, salt and sugar
- Restricting advertising for unhealthy foods
- Eliminating subsidies on agriculture that make some foods cheaper than others
- Supporting production of local foods
By simply taxing sweet beverages in India, the amount of diabetes would drop by 3-4 percent.
While the focus of the public is often on a lack of access to food and starvation, it is also important to note the negative aspects of unhealthy lifestyles on nations around the world.
— Lily Tyson