World Obesity at the 77th World Health Assembly | World Obesity Federation

World Obesity at the 77th World Health Assembly

NewsWorld Obesity at the 77th World Health Assembly

27 May - 1 June 2024, Geneva

The World Obesity team joined our members and fellow health organisations at the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva to progress action on obesity.

The 77th WHA started off at Walk the Talk and with the World Heart Summit, launching a full week of moments and events where civil society, health champions and governments gathered, solidifying coalitions, as we move towards the 2025 United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs.

The World Obesity team, including President-Elect Simón Barquera, CEO Johanna Ralston, and Head of Policy Magdalena Wetzel, teamed up with fellow health organisations, including the Global Obesity Coalition (World Obesity, WHO and UNICEF) and our members from Ghana, Zambia, the GASOL Foundation, ECPO and GOPA/EASO.

It was a fantastic week spending time with great colleagues, extraordinarily dedicated health leaders, inspirational patient advocates, and dedicated members and friends.

Read on for some of the week's highlights.

WHA 77

Walk the Talk

WHA 77 was officially launched with 'Walk the Talk' on 26 May. The World Obesity team met up with WHO colleagues and members, GASOL Foundation, in welcoming Pau Gasol as childhood obesity control champion.

Gasol was one of the leaders of the walk, held in order to raise awareness about the global obesity epidemic, and we also enjoyed watching him and others shoot some hoops with WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Watch highlights here

Accelerating action on obesity

The Ministers of Health of Spain and Jordan hosted a high-level event around the WHO Acceleration Plan to STOP obesity.

Distinguished delegates from Philippines, Mexico - World Obesity President-Elect, Dr Simón Barquera, ECPO, and Scaling Up Nutrition Movement addressed the obesity epidemic and welcomed Spain as the 32nd frontrunner country of the Acceleration Plan.

WHA 77

We took the opportunity to convene a huddle of the Global Obesity Coalition - WHO, World Obesity and UNICEF - along with colleagues from civil society organisations around the globe, to empower us as a coalition and discuss how to unlock action around obesity. At this meeting, we delved into aspects of the acceleration plan, including country engagement, progress, and mobilising civil society for the WHO Acceleration Plan to STOP obesity. 

During the Assembly, we delivered a statement calling for ambitious targets and resourcing to accelerate action on obesity and support efforts worldwide.

Read our statement here

The Road to the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs

Given the UN Meeting on NCDs in September 2025, Assembly week in Geneva provided a critical opportunity to highlight obesity within the broader NCDs agenda. World Obesity volunteer and leader of the Trinidad and Tobago NCD Alliance, Dr Karen Sealey, kicked off discussions at the World Heart Summit (WHS) bringing her lived experience of obesity and related comorbidities to the fore. Dr Sealey is a longtime PAHO and WHO leader who has recently supported efforts to highlight the central role obesity plays in so many NCDs through the lens of her personal as well as professional experiences.

WHA 77

To further highlight the need to address obesity and cardiometabolic disease together, World Obesity co-hosted a side event with World Heart Federation on health systems preparedness to addressing both global health challenges. Dr Sealey led a lively one-on-one discussion with Dr Rachel Batterham OBE. A panel discussion followed with Dr Francesco Branca, WHO, Ebenezer Ad Adams, SASNET GHANA, and Dr Monika Arora, NCDA and Public Health Foundation of India, alongside private sector partners and members. Closing remarks were given by EASO President, Prof. Volkan Yumuk, and our CEO, Johanna Ralston.

As we prepare for the upcoming High-level meeting, the team took part in the sustainable financing for NCDs roundtable and a gathering of the WHO Global NCD Platform.

Obesity and ... Breastfeeding

The critical need to protect, support and promote breastfeeding is embedded in the obesity recommendations within the WHO Acceleration Plan as it is a cost-effective intervention to prevent overweight and obesity in children and mothers. We co-hosted an event with IFBAN, Save the Children, UNICEF and ILCA on the digital marketing of breastmilk substitutes, which is in dire need of regulation. WHO guidelines urgently need to be implemented for the health of mothers and children, as we stated during the Assembly.


Obesity and ... Investment cases

We were excited to attend WHO’s first-ever Investment Round and launch of investment case that lays out the Organization’s essential contribution to global health, and seeks investment in its 2025–2028 strategy to save 40 million lives and improve the health of 6 billion people. The aim is to achieve this by focusing on health emergencies, AMR, maternal and child health, infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases, vaccination, the effects of climate change, and risk factors, including tobacco, alcohol, physical activity and diet.


Obesity and ... Climate change

Our CEO, Johanna Ralston, participated in a World Health Summit session on the triple threat of CVD, climate change and ultra processed food (UPFs) and discussed the interconnection of UPF consumption as a considerable contributing factor to climate change, obesity and CVD.  

WHA77 approved the General Programme of Work 2025-2028, which includes responding to the escalating threat to health posed by climate change as one of its six strategic objectives. Momentum on climate change is building as WHA77 also saw the adoption of a landmark resolution on Climate Change and Health which underlines climate change as a major threat to global public health, and sets out a framework to promote health and build climate-resilient and sustainable health systems.

Obesity and ... Workforce health and well-being

The World Economic Forum, headquartered just outside Geneva, convened a group of multinational companies interested in supporting employees affected by obesity and fostering health-enabling environments. Johanna Ralston, who serves on the steering group for this initiative, joined a working meeting during WHA along with former WHO medical leader and lived experience advocate, Karen Sealey, and World Obesity Head of Policy, Maggie Wetzel.

Obesity and ... Liver health

EASO President, Prof. Volkan Yumuk, and Johanna Ralston joined a panel on obesity and liver health hosted by the Global Liver Institute and the European Association for the Study of Liver. Alongside Egyptian Minister of Health, Dr Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, and GLI Founder, Donna Cryer, the invited obesity guests addressed the linkages between NAFLD/MAFLD and obesity, as well as factors for successfully launching a social movement.

Statements delivered by World Obesity at WHA 77

World Obesity delivered a number of statements on key agenda items, including on Universal Health Coverage and Obesity, Well-being and Health Promotion (joint statement with NCD Alliance and WCRF), Social Determinants of Health (joint statement with Movendi, NCD Alliance and WCRF), and Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (joint statement with NCD Alliance and WCRF).

You can read and download our statements here:

Related Resources

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Statements May 30, 24

Statement to the 77th World Health Assembly - Well-being and Health Promotion

Statement on agenda item 15.3 & 15.5

View Resource

Statements May 29, 24

Statement to the 77th World Health Assembly - UHC & Obesity

Statement on Agenda Items 11.1 & 11.2

View Resource

Statements May 30, 24

Statement to the 77th World Health Assembly - Social Determinants of Health

Statement on agenda item 15.1.

View Resource

Statements May 30, 24

Statement to the 77th World Health Assembly - Maternal, infant and young child nutrition

Statement on agenda item 15.2

View Resource