As I mentioned in a previous post, the United Nations General Assembly met this month to consider resolutions about doing something to address rising rates of “non-communicable” diseases (i.e., chronic as opposed to infectious diseases such as obesity-related coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers).
The Declaration adopted by the Assembly disappointed a consortium of 140 non-profit public health advocacy groups who issued a statement noting the conflicts of interest that occur when international agencies “partner” with companies that make products that contribute to an increase in disease risks.”
The consortium suggested actions that they hoped the U.N. would recommend, such as:
- Realign food policies for food and agricultural subsidies with sound nutrition science
- Mandate easy-to-understand front-of-pack nutrition labeling
- Ban the promotion of breast-milk substitutes and high-fat, -sugar and -salt foods to children and young people
- Prohibit advertising and brand sponsorship for alcohol beverages
- Increase taxes on alcohol beverages
- Expand nutritious school meal programs
The group also said that the U.N. should still work on:
- Developing tools to navigate the trade law barriers to health policy innovation,
- Establishing disease-reduction targets and policy implementation schedules
- Instituting mechanisms to keep commercially self-interested parties at arms-length and public-interest groups constructively involved
Food companies and trade associations are actively involved in lobbying the U.N. not to do any of these things. This consortium has much work to do.