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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
World health ministers endorse diet plan to fight obesity
The world’s health ministers of WHO member states endorsed a strategy on 22 May, 2004 to fight obesity around the world at their annual Health Assembly meeting in Geneva.
The plan to fight obesity focuses on improving the diet with healthy eating and the promotion of exercise. Obesity is linked to diabetes, cancer, heart disease and a number of other illnesses. The new strategy is a global effort to stem the increasing world problem of obesity.
Dr Kaare Norum, an obesity expert, advised the World Health Organization (WHO) on the development of the plan. The overall strategy recommends limiting the intake of fat, sugar and salt that are found in many processed foods. Increased physical activity and exercise also play a key role in the diet plan.
The sugar industry and sugar-producing nations were unsuccessful in attempting to derail the strategy by having no reference to reducing sugar in the diet plan. Some developing countries feared their sugar farmers would be harmed by the strategy.
The healthy diet approved by the ministers focuses on the benefits of increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, while reducing dangerous fats that can lead to serious health problems.
The US and European food groups called the campaign “an important step forward in improving nutrition, promoting physical activity and combating obesity worldwide”.
According to the World Heart Federation, 1.1 billion adults and 22 million children under age five are obese worldwide, with over-eating or poor eating habits replacing malnutrition as a health problem in many developing nations.
Unlike the United Nations’ drive against smoking, the subject of the first-ever international health treaty approved at last year’s assembly, the move to get people to eat healthier food and take more exercise will not be legally binding on the WHO’s 192 member countries.