Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - FAO / WHO / WTO / Codex - 2017

WHO News Release, 30 May 2017

NUTRITION / LABELLING - Seventieth World Health Assembly Update, 30 May 2017: Discussions on Noncommunicable diseases and Childhood Obesity

The 70th WHO Assembly is taking place in Geneva this week and has a very extensive list of agenda items.  The following two reports include aspects of the discussions linked to potential food law issues:

Noncommunicable diseases

Delegates endorsed an updated set of policy options and interventions to help countries meet global targets to prevent and control noncommunicable diseases. The new set includes 16 interventions known as “best buys” within WHO's global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020. The effectiveness of the “best buys” has recently been re-examined and reaffirmed by the WHO Secretariat.

Particular focus is placed on measures to reduce people’s exposure to factors that increase the risk of developing NCDs - including through taxation of tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverages; banning tobacco advertising, and reformulation of food products to reduce salt content. Interventions to improve management and control of NCDs include providing drug therapy for diabetes and hypertension, counselling for people who have had a heart attack or stroke or those at high risk of a cardiovascular event, and cervical cancer screening for women.

Delegates noted WHO’s work to advance the NCD agenda, including the ongoing preparations for the third United Nations General Assembly High-level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs to be held in 2018.

Childhood Obesity

Delegates welcomed a plan to implement recommendations made by the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. The recommendations aim to reverse the rising trend of children and adolescents becoming overweight and obese. The implementation plan highlights the importance of tackling environments that facilitate access to and promotion of unhealthy foods and make it hard for children to be physically active. It focuses on preventing obesity throughout the life course, from the earliest years.

The implementation plan aims to help countries to fulfil commitments on addressing obesity that they have already made. These include pledges contained in the WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs, the comprehensive implementation plan for maternal, infant and young child nutrition and as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The implementation plan stresses encouraging infants and young children to choose healthy foods through supportive policies and interventions, including taxation, marketing and labelling. The plan focuses on supporting and building healthy habits that last through the life course. It also highlights the need for shaping school environments and curricula as well as community environments to support healthy lifestyle choices – including the taking of physical exercise.

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