UN urges reductions in fats, salt, sugar

The United Nations has adopted a political declaration on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, chronic respiratory disease and cancer – decided at its High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) held September 19-20.

Member states recognised the most prominent NCDs are linked to common risk factors, namely tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. They called for global targets to monitor the diseases and their risk factors that kill 36 million people each year, including reducing salts and sugars, eliminating trans fats in all foods, and increasing physical activity among others.

They pledged to promote WHO’s recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, including foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, free sugars or salt.

They also agreed to implement cost-effective measures to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fats and eliminate industrially-produced trans fats in foods and to encourage policies that support the production and consumption of foods that contribute to healthy diets.

The UN General Assembly asked WHO to develop a framework for monitoring global progress and to prepare recommendations by 2012 for a set of global targets to monitor trends and assess the progress in countries to reduce the toll of suffering, disability and premature death due to NCDs.