Session 6
Obesity:
why our
problem?
Briefing
workshop
August 4-5,
2004
Centre for Science and Environment
Profits in “bad health”
• WHO meeting in Geneva,
May 2004: Global strategy
on ‘diet, physical activity
and health’.
• Obesity growing.
Diabetes, hypertension,
heart..weak bones..called
NCDs.
• India ..top country
affected by diabetes..
• Cost of healthcare
expensive.
Centre for Science and Environment
WHO wants governments to take
charge..
• Indicts bad food.
• Wants sugar to be
restricted to 10% of daily
diet.
• Wants governments to stop
giving incentives to
unhealthy food..
• Wants industry to limit
levels of saturated
fat..sugar in products.
Centre for Science and Environment
Bad food
• Bad food-lifestyle indicted.
• Research done to show how sugar-fat rich
food is responsible for obesity related
diseases..
• WHO says: high and increasing consumption
of sugar sweetened drinks by children is
serious concern. Each additional can each day
increases risks of becoming obese by 60 per
cent…
Centre for Science and Environment
“Persuading” children
• WHO says food advertising targetting children
must be restricted.
• Fast food-beverages classified as ‘eat least’ in
dietary guidelines are heavily marketed. In
1997 manufacturers spent US$ 11 billion on
“eat least” category.
• Advertising influences food choices and
dietary habits.
Centre for Science and Environment
“I’m loving it”..
• UK proposing to ban fast food makers from
advertising their products during children’s TV.
• House of Commons report says obesity in UK
risen by 400 per cent in 25 years.
• Asks companies to “voluntarily” withdraw
advertising in 3 years.
• Country also considering tax on fatty food.
Blair says this will be “signal to society”, to
make right choice..
Centre for Science and Environment
Persuaders….
• Some governments prohibit advertising before
and after children’s programmes…..
• Even in US, some schools now objecting to
“pouring rights” with soft drink companies to
get funds. Some US$ 200 million in revenues to
schools in which vending machines put up in
schools for drinks. Competing with water
fountains.
• For every dollar spent on nutrition education,
food industry spends US$ 5000 on advertising
says World Bank.
Centre for Science and Environment
Take caffeine in India?
• Globally caffeine only permitted in ‘cola dinks’ (China,
Canada, Australia, South Africa, Holland, Spain etc.).
Allowed till 150 mg/l. Or caffeine-free versions of sold.
• Or strong health advisory given so that people ask for
caffeine-free versions.
• PFA makes no such distinction. Allows 200 mg/l in all.
• Result: In India, caffeine added even in non-cola drinks
like PepsiCo’s ‘Mountain Dew’.
• Harmful for children, pregnant and lactating women.
• Caffeine is addictive.
• We cannot allow caffeine in non-cola.
• Reduce caffeine content to 150 mg/l in cola drinks.
Centre for Science and Environment
Labelling..weak laws.
• We also need clear warning labels if caffeine
added. Labels needed in regional languages.
• Should say: health advisory:
• “The beverage is not recommended for:
•
Children
•
Pregnant or lactating women
Individuals sensitive to caffeine”
What about other food?
Industry will take advantage of weak laws. Be
clear..
Centre for Science and Environment
US government does not agree..
• Industry lobby powerful. Uses US government
to fight its cause.
• Says report “unscientific”.
• But US itself says sugar: 8 per cent of
diet..working on national strategies.
• But same global strategy would hurt its
industry..Coca-Cola 70% profits from outside
US..McDonalds…
• Indian government has no position..
Centre for Science and Environment
Why should we care?
• We have diseases of poor – malnutrition etc..
• But also diseases of rich. Putting burden on
health care systems.
• WHO says…number of people with diabetes
will increases – from 84 million in 1995 to 228
million in 2025. 60 per cent in developing
countries..
Centre for Science and Environment
What happened?
• Health Assembly 2004: Huge lobby. Huge
pressure from industries.
• Strategy diluted.
• Says appropriate levels intake of energy,
nutrients, foods…including sugar…to be
determined.
• We are left to the mercy of food industry
and corporations in the name of Free
Choice.
• But is this the “right choice”…Baby?
Centre for Science and Environment
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