Inadequate nutrition (along with with tobacco consumption and insufficient physical activity) is one of the principal causes of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These diseases (which include cardio and cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and respiratory diseases, among others) cause the deaths of 35 million people around the world each year.
Eighty percent of these deaths occur in countries with low to moderate income levels.During the Second International Conference on Nutrition, more than 170 countries adopted a series of concrete commitments, as well as the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action, which establish recommendations regarding policies and programs which would address nutrition issues across multiple sectors.
● The Rome Declaration establishes the right of each individual to have access to sufficient quantities of food that is safe and nutritious, and it commits governments to preventing malnutrition in all its forms, including hunger, micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity.
● The Framework for Action recognizes that it is the role and principal responsibility of governments to address the problems and challenges of nutrition, in dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, and affected communities. It establishes sixty recommended actions that governments can incorporate into their national plans for nutrition, health, agriculture, education, development, and investment, and which they should consider when negotiating international agreements to secure better nutrition for all.
The Rome Declaration and the Framework for Action “are the starting point of our renewed efforts to improve nutrition for all, but they are not the finishing line. Our responsibility is to transform the commitment into concrete results” observed José Graziano da Silva. Director-General of the FAO.
Within the framework of the conference, an open letter asking for a binding treaty confronting malnutrition has been sent to the highest leaders of WHO and the FAO, written in cooperation with Consumers International, the World Obesity Federation, the UK Health Forum, and consumer organizations in Fiji and Mexico, with the support of more than 300 individuals and organizations. The letter urges that major actions be taken to protect and promote healthy diets using similar methods to those employed by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which has demonstrated its efficiency in reducing tobacco consumption. The letter is addressed to the Director-General of WHO, Margaret Chan, and the Director-General of the FAO, José Graziano da Silva, ahead of the International Conference on Nutrition. The letter asserts that “the governance of food production and distribution cannot be left to economic interests alone”, and it insists that governments take regulatory measures to:
● reduce children’s exposure to marketing,
● impose limits on the amount of saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium content in foods,
● put fiscal measures in place that would discourage the consumption of foods with low nutritional value, and
● require that all trade and investment policies be evaluated for their possible impact on health. Here at FUNDEPS, we believe that the Rome Declaration and the Framework for Action represent a good first step in making important recommendations regarding policies to promote healthy diets.
We believe that these policies should be employed from a human rights perspective that will allow all people to live healthier lives. In this way, States must comply with their obligation to protect human rights to health and food from third parties, such as industry, which can affect them. In this sense, the option of a binding treaty on this theme could facilitate the development of regulation standards, and at FUNDEPS we are studying this possibility, hoping to work toward eliminating malnutrition.
Translated by: Elizabeth Laudenslager