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Policies and programmes to fight overweight and obesity










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    Book (stand-alone)
    Food policies and their implications on overweight and obesity trends in selected countries in the Near East and North Africa region
    Regional Program Working Paper No. 30
    2020
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    Regional and global trends in body weight show that the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region countries, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries, have the highest average body mass index and highest rates of overweight and obesity in the world. There exist several explanations that expound the high rates of overweight and obesity in most NENA countries, including the nutrition transition, urbanization, changes in lifestyle, and consequent reduction of physical activities. This study examines the implication of food policies, mainly trade and government food subsidies, on evolving nutritional transitions and associated body weight outcomes. We examine the evolution of trade (food) policies, food systems, and body weight outcomes across selected countries in the NENA region – Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq. In particular, we investigate the implications of important trade (food) policies in shaping diets and food systems as well as their implications on public health outcomes, mainly the rising levels of overweight and obesity in the NENA region. We provide a simple conceptual framework through which trade policies (tariff rates) and domestic government food policies (subsidies) may affect food systems and nutritional outcomes. An important and innovative feature of this study is that it compiles several macro- and micro-level datasets that allow both macro and micro-level analyses of the evolution of trade (food) policies and associated obesity trends. This approach helps to at least partly overcome the data scarcity that complicates rigorous policy research in the NENA region. Overweight and obesity rates have almost doubled between 1975 and 2016, with varying rates and trends across regions. For instance, whereas body weight in the NENA region was comparable with that found in high-income countries in the early years, after the 1990s regional overweight and obesity rates became much higher than those in high-income countries. Specifically, while most high-income countries are experiencing a relative slowing of increases in overweight rates, the trend for the NENA region continues to increase at higher rates. The evolution of overweight rates for the GCC countries are even more concerning. These trends are likely to contribute to the already high burden of non-communicable diseases in the NENA region. Contrary to the conventional view that overweight and obesity rates are urban problems, our findings show that rural body weight has been rising over the past few decades, sometimes at higher rates than in urban areas.
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    Booklet
    Health on the table – A consumer advocacy perspective on reducing overweight and obesity in Latin America 2021
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    The health of global consumers has suffered greatly from the growing problem of overweight and obesity. In Latin America and the Caribbean, overweight affects 59.5 percent of adults, more than 20 percentage points above the world average, while almost a quarter of all adults are obese, well above the world average of 13.1 percent. Consumers are among the most preeminent actors of food systems; in Latin America and the Caribbean, organized consumers have been key in promoting policies and regulations that aim to improve food environments. The FAO requested a view from consumer advocates in seven countries in Latin America on healthy eating initiatives, in order to identify promising practices and recommend policy changes. Supported by Consumers International, consumer advocacy organisations developed a consumer-centered framework highlighting the key elements of any healthy eating initiative. The team surveyed over 70 organisations in the seven countries for examples of initiatives that encourage healthy eating. Initiatives were then assessed against the framework to identify elements that could be strengthened, encouraged, or scaled through public policy interventions. This document will serve as a valuable tool for the different sectors, and especially decision-makers, to incorporate the vision of consumers in the transformation of agrifood systems.
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    Chile's food law and the prevention of obesity 2017
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    This document was formulated by the Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It was designed to share the Chilean experience while Law Nº 20,606 regarding the Nutritional Composition of Food and Food Advertising (hereinafter the Food Act) was being passed(1) with members of parliament and other decision makers from different countries throughout the Americas. This process encompasses formulation of the Act, its entry into force and monitoring of the Act, which may also apply to other public policies of this type, which is to say, that favor the general population’s health. Chile is one of the countries in the Region with the highest overweight and obesity rates for children and adults(2). In 2009-2010, over 60% of the population between the ages of 15 and 64 was overweight or obese(3). The problem is even more serious for the population with fewer years of education(4) and which belongs to the low- and mediu m-income quintiles(5). The proportion of overweight and obese persons has increased very quickly, since 7% of first-grade elementary (primary school) students were considered obese in 1987 and this figure came to 24.6% in 2016(6, 7). Supply, demand and consumption of processed and ultraprocessed food and beverages with industrial formulations consisting of substances derived from food or synthesized from other organic sources increased between 1987 and 2016. Some of these products are sold for i mmediate consumption, since these are ready to eat after heating(8). Most products sold in supermarkets fall into this category, despite the fact that there is evidence that these foods lead to weight gain and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease(8). Chilean people have the highest per capita soft drink consumption rate in the world and has the second- highest per capita ultraprocessed food sales in the Region(8). In addition, only 14% of the Chilean population follow three or more dietar y guidelines recommendations and only 5% have a healthy diet(4). If no changes are made, healthcare expenses stemming from obesity in Chile are estimated to increase from 0.5% of the country’s GDP in 2016 to 1.6% in 2030(9) or amount to approximately US$ 750 million per year for the next 20 years. These reasons motivated the public sector to consider and implement a series of policies, plans and programs to reduce overweight and obesity rates, which led to formulation of the Food Act.

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