WCRD 2015 to focus on consumers’ rights to healthy food
01 Dec 2014
Unhealthy diets are linked to four of the ten biggest causes of death worldwide: overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and high cholesterol. Obesity alone is estimated to cost US$2 trillion per year. It really is time the world woke up to the price of unhealthy diets.
It is why CI has decided to make helping consumers choose healthy diets the theme of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2015.
All consumers deserve the right not just to food, but to healthy food. A binding global treaty would ensure consumers easy access to healthy food and lead to a more equitable, sustainable food system.
The rise in diet related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers represents a major international public health crisis. The number of overweight and obese people continues to rise and, to date, not a single country has been successful in reversing the increase.
The impact of poor diets on health now exceeds that of smoking. The impact of obesity on global GDP is equivalent to the cost of war, gun violence and terrorism. This is a problem that affects people in the developed and developing world, with the fastest increases occurring in the global south.
Consumers and consumer choices are central to resolving this problem. The availability and affordability of unhealthy foods, the marketing practices of large international food companies and the lack of information available to consumers makes it increasingly hard to choose a healthy diet. Despite a growing international consensus about the factors that are driving the rise in obesity and diet related disease, the response from industry and government is far too slow.
Our activities for WCRD 2015 will focus on our call on the WHO for an International Convention to Protect and Promote Healthy Diets – using a similar mechanism to the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, which has undoubtedly helped reduce smoking deaths and disease.
In addition, by highlighting the practices of international food and drink companies, it has the potential to directly influence their behaviour.
CI has done extensive policy work on this issue for which we are internationally recognised. We have strong international partners and we are well placed to be a leading voice.
At the World Health Assembly in May 2014, we launched our call for a Global Convention on healthy diet and published a set of recommendations for Member States to consider.
In November 2014 we co-authored an open letter to the heads of WHO and FAO calling for a Global Convention. This letter has already secured the public support of over 330 international health experts.
World Consumer Rights Day will be the next push in our efforts to secure Member States support for a Global Convention and its eventual adoption by the WHO.
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