Scientists call for coordinated action on obesity, undernutrition, climate change

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-28 20:04:29|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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WELLINGTON, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- A new international report linking obesity, undernutrition and climate change is calling for strong global actions that address all three issues at once.

The Lancet Obesity Commission report published on Monday argued that to address the three interconnected pandemics, leaders must take a hard line against powerful vested commercial interests, and overhaul regulations and economic incentives within the food system.

"Obesity, undernutrition and climate change are usually viewed as separate, but we show that not only do they share many key drivers, they fuel each other via multiple feedback loops," said Prof. Boyd Swinburn from the University of Auckland, co-chair of 43 world-leading experts who authored the report.

For example, food systems not only drive the obesity and undernutrition pandemics but also generate more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and about half of New Zealand's emissions, Swinburn said.

Car-dominated transportation systems promote sedentary lifestyles and generate up to a quarter of global emissions, he said.

Climate change will increase undernutrition through greater food insecurity from extreme weather events, droughts, and shifts in agriculture, the scientist said.

Swinburn said New Zealand could became a trailblazer if the principles behind the government's new wellbeing budget were applied across all government policies and spending.

The Lancet Obesity Commission also recommends that all countries enshrine in law an overarching Right to Wellbeing, which would include the existing human rights, along with a new right to a healthy environment.

The report's recommendations include a new global treaty on food systems, similar to existing ones on tobacco control and climate change, to mobilize national action for healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems.

It also suggests subsidies redirected towards healthy and sustainable foods and energy; a global philanthropic fund of 1 billion U.S. dollars to support social movements demanding policy action; and "a 7-generations fund" to research and apply indigenous and traditional knowledge and worldviews on living well, "making decisions today for seven generations ahead."