In this section, we provide a platform for blogs and opinion articles pertaining to obesity and food systems. Authored by prominent researchers, public health professionals, and youth – these resources shine a light on key dialogues and the application of research as it is perceived by people experiencing our systems today.
Editorials and Opinions
Advancing our obesity agenda at the UN Food Systems Summit
At an event around the Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly (WHA 74), World Obesity, with other founding members of the Global Obesity Coalition - UNICEF and the World Health Organization – brought together food and health stakeholders to discuss the challenges of multi-sector working, as well as opportunities for action on obesity in the context of the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit 2021.
Reflections on the National Food Strategy – will it optimise the United Kingdom (UK’s) food system for nutrition and equity?
The government-commissioned 2021 United Kingdom (UK) National Food Strategy, led by restaurateur Henry Dimbleby is a call to action for the government to address a rising tide of obesity and its associated co-morbidities. It investigates the current food system and makes 14 recommendations to escape the ‘junk food cycle’ and protect the National Health Service (NHS), reduce diet-related inequalities, make the best use of land, and create a long-term shift in food culture.
You can read reflections from the World Obesity Federation and Association for the Study of Obesity here. The opinion piece explores recommendations that are relevant across the globe, including a pivotal opportunity to act and respond to the report's demands – the United Nations Food Systems Summit.
The role of food systems in addressing the triple burden of malnutrition
Together with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Mothers First, World Obesity, explored the interactions between food systems, different forms of malnutrition, and gender, highlighting some of the key double and triple duty actions that must be elevated to deliver health for all people on the planet.
Read reflections from the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, Pre-Summit affiliated session here.
Healthy societies – fixing systems not people
It is time to shift our focus to fixing the broken system, not just trying to fix the people within the system. Kent Buse amplifies the need to invest in health promotion and prevention, whilst acknowledging the social determinants of health – social, economic, and environmental factors that determine the absence or presence of disease. Drawing on global experiences during the AIDs movement, the reflection presents opportunities and milestones of change that give hope for the trajectory of the obesity pandemic.
Read the full BMJ opinion paper here.
Kent Buse is Director of the Healthier Societies Program, The George Institute for Global Health, and serves on the Policy and Prevention Committee of the World Obesity Federation.
What the rising level of obesity says about the food system
Co-authored by Dr. Agnes Kalibata and Prof John Wilding, the blog explores the double burden of malnutrition and the role of rising levels of obesity on delivering human as well as planetary health. The article explores how the UN Food Systems Summit will deliver progress and contribute to fixing the broken food system.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the urgent need for the summit, shedding light on the links between health and food systems and how both can make people and the planet sick.’
Read it here.
Dr. Agnes Kalibata is the special envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit. John Wilding is a professor at the University of Liverpool and the president of the World Obesity Federation.
Our food systems are failing us, and young people demand action
Today, the world is home to the largest generation of young people in history. In 2020 there were 1.21 billion individuals aged between 15 - 24 and predicted to rise to 1.4 billion by 2065. In advance of International Youth Day, 2021 – Margot Neveux, and Dipty Chowdhury take an opportunity to reflect on the root causes of obesity, including the obesity-related food system drivers. They make a call-to-action for stakeholders and decision-makers to listen and integrate young people’s perspectives in efforts to improve food systems and build a better world.
Margot Neveux is Senior Policy Manager at the World Obesity Federation. Dipty Chowdhury is a Youth Leader, UN Food Systems Summit Action Track 1, and a Core Member of the Act4Food Act4Change campaign.
Ultra-Processed Foods – Do you know what your children are eating?
Today, we are surrounded by Ultra Processed Foods (UPFs): soft drinks, packaged snacks, cookies, and biscuits, candies, ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat meals, instant noodles, all of which are constantly on display and easily accessible to all. The rise in the global prevalence of obesity has occurred in parallel with the increase in UPF consumption worldwide. Camila Corvalan explores the association between UPF consumption and weight gain. The blog expands on experiments from leading research on UPFs, Dr. Chris Van Tulleken. Watch highlights here.
You can read the full blog here.
Camila Corvalan is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chile and a member of the World Obesity Federation Policy and Prevention Committee.