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Healthy diets are key for the realization of the right to adequate food

News - 10.09.2019

Rome, 28 August 2019- Unhealthy diets, combined with sedentary lifestyles, have overtaken smoking as the number 1 cause of death and disability. This and other facts have led the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to focus this year World Food Day (WFD) on making healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone, so that everybody can enjoy their right to food.

The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of having healthy eating habits, which meet needs of sufficient, safe, nutrition and diverse foods to lead an active life and reduce risk of disease.

Health is a key dimension for adequate food. This implies not only access to food or its procurement, but also food that is socially, economically and culturally acceptable and adequate for everyone and sustainable for present and future generations.

In addition, having healthy diets can represent an investment with enormous economic returns. Indeed, healthy problems linked to obesity cost national budgets worldwide an estimates USD 2 trillion in treatment each year.

Meanwhile, climate change also impacts strongly on healthy diets. Today, around 2.5 billion people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Environmental damages threaten to reduce both the quality and quantity of crops, lowering yields and disrupting access to natural resources for communities.

Actions leading to healthy diets

Under the theme “Our actions are our future. Healthy diets for a #Zero Hunger world, FAO urges governments, institutions and civil society to design and implement strategies and policies to ensure healthy diets.  

Governments should focus on addressing the main drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition by finding synergies between agriculture, nutrition, health, education that impact positively on nutrition and realize the right to food. They should adopt sound constitutional and legal frameworks for food security and nutrition and the fulfilment of this important human right, whilst strengthen the participation of as many stakeholders as possible.

One practical tool to guide governments is the Right to Food Guidelines, adopted in 2004 by FAO Council. This voluntary instrument helps them to take policy action to create and maintain an enabling environment progressively contributing to more sustainable food systems and healthier dietary habits through laws, policies and strategies.

A number of countries have already developed measures to enhance healthy diets. A law adopted in Peru aims to promote healthy food for children and adolescents by regulating advertisement and the food available in schools, by encouraging nutrition education as well as physical activity, and by creating a monitoring institution to gather and analyze relevant data on their nutritional status.

Another example, in the Republic of Korea, the city of Seoul has declared every citizen’s right to adequate food and launched a master plan designed to tackle rising obesity and other dietary issues through a series of actions. This include increasing the number of vegetable-fruit vending machines, fruit-package retailers and fruit cafes available at public transport hubs and public institutions, as well as and using logos that identify restaurants as offering low-salt meal options.

Consumers have also an important role to play in promoting healthy diets. Through information and awareness, they can be empowered and express their demands. They can provide an important public perspective and contribute to stress people’ s needs and preferences. Consumers organizations an also strengthen the role of consumers in the promotion of adequate and healthy nutrition, especially for the most vulnerable segments of society, including youth and women.

 

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