WFA speaks at WHO Global Health Forum


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On 27 April 2011 in Moscow, the World Health Organisation held the first WHO Global Forum: “Addressing the Challenge of Noncommunicable Diseases”. The forum was convened in order to provide an opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders to discuss and share perspectives on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and understand expectations, roles and contributions of the different stakeholders in support of the September 2011 United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases. The Forum was opened and chaired by Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO.

On the invitation of WHO, WFA spoke on a panel during one of six concurrent sessions, which brought together members of the food and non-alcoholic beverage and alcoholic beverage industries. Conclusions from the forum were then passed to the First Global Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and NCD Control, which was held in the same location the next day.

WHO took the opportunity to releas a report focusing on the current global status of NCDs with a view to building momentum ahead of the United Nations High Level Summit on NCDs in New York on 19-20 September. The Report outlines the current status of NCDs in Member States and reports on the progress made by countries to address these diseases in terms of policies, infrastructure, surveillance and population-wide and individual interventions.

Importantly, the report claims that:

• The rapidly growing burden of NCDs in low- and middle-income countries is associated with increasing consumption of “foods with higher levels of total energy”;
• People in developing countries are increasingly being “targeted by marketing for tobacco, alcohol and junk food”
• There is strong evidence linking television advertising to children's food knowledge, preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns;
• The reduction in marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages high in salt, fats and sugar to children is a cost-effective action to reduce NCDs;
• World Health Assembly Resolution 63.14 urges Member States to take necessary measures to implement the WHO recommendations on marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children.

The report further states that: “(...) the private sector can make a decisively important contribution to addressing NCD prevention challenges. Companies should work closely with governments to promote healthy lifestyles (...) by: reformulation to reduce salt, trans-fat and sugar in their products; ensuring responsible marketing; and helping to make NCD essential medicines more affordable and accessible. Such actions need to be monitored.”

WFA members can request more detail on the discussions from Will Gilroy:

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