Unhealthy diets have become a major global killer. Poor diet now ranks above tobacco use as the leading risk factor for death from non-communicable diseases. Every year 16 million people die before the age of 70 from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes. These conditions are preventable and are highly affected by diet. Overweight and obesity, among the most prevalent risk factors for non-communicable diseases, have reached epidemic proportions. There are around two billion overweight adults and 670 million who are obese. Around 224 million school-age children are estimated to be overweight, making this generation the first predicted to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Helping consumers choose healthier diets
We have been campaigning on healthy diets for over 20 years, beginning with our first international survey of food marketing practices in 1996. Whilst there is no one solution to the global nutrition crisis we are facing, there are a number of measures which have been shown to help. Like the World Health Organization and the UN General Assembly, we believe that these measures should be introduced as a package. These measures include: protecting children from the marketing of unhealthy food; providing consumers with better nutrition information about the food that they buy; reducing the levels of fat, sugar and salt in processed foods; fiscal measures such as sugar taxes; and improving the provision of food in schools and other public institutions.
OUR WORK IN THIS AREA
In 2014 we published ambitious recommendations for a Global Convention to Protect and Promote Healthy Diets, based on another international health treaty aimed at reducing non-communicable diseases, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. A Global Convention on Diets would legally commit governments to implementing all of the policies that have been shown to help consumers to eat healthy diets. These recommendations broke new ground in global health discourse and attracted the support of the then UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter. They continue to inform our work on healthy diets.
Representing consumers in the development of food standards
Codex Alimentarius is the international food standards body, setting international guidelines and standards for ensuring food safety. Whilst Codex standards are not legally binding, they are important in that they provide a reference point for the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization. We have official observer status with Codex and provide a consumer voice by participating at the meetings of a number of committees, including:
Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC)
Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL)
Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Food (CCRVDF)
Highlights, successes and related materials
In 2011, after a twenty year campaign, Consumers International celebrated victory when Codex agreed guidance on the labelling of genetically modified, GM, food. This allows countries to label GM foods without the threat of a legal challenge from the World Trade Organization.
Our World Consumers Rights Day, healthy diets Thunderclap campaign, run in Spanish, English and Portuguese, reached more than 2.8 million social media users. 110 members held national activities in 84 countries.
Following campaigning by Consumers International, in 2010 a set of recommendations on marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children was agreed at the World Health Assembly.
In 2014 we published ambitious recommendations for a Global Convention to Protect and Promote Healthy Diets which broke new ground in global heath discourse.
Antibiotics of the menu
This report looks at the commitments that three of the largest global fast food restaurant chains, Subway, McDonald's and KFC have made on antibiotics in their supply chains.