A United Nations special representative called on the leaders of the world to craft policies that confront cheap, un-nutritious, industrially produced food Tuesday.
The UN special representative for the right to food also said governments need to craft stricter measures for corporate food producers without influence from food companies, the Associated Press reports.
“Within the human rights framework, states are obliged to ensure effective measures to regulate the food industry, ensure that nutrition policymaking spaces are free from private sector influence and implement comprehensive policies that combat malnutrition in all its forms,” Hilal Elver, the UN’s special representative on the right to food.
The rise of industrial agriculture and more open trade makes it easier for corporations to sell cheap food around the world, which essentially forces poor people to choose between good food and inexpensive junk food.
“The first step is to recognize nutrition as an essential component of the human right to adequate food, reinforced by monitoring accountability and transparency,” Elver said.
Elver’s predecessors at the UN have routinely called out the cheapness of junk food for contributing to health problems around the world. (RELATED: The End Of Hunger? ‘Calamitous Famines’ Seem To Have Disappeared)
“Unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco,” former UN representative on the right to food Olivier De Schutter said in a 2014 speech to the World Health Organization.
If you want something to blame for diabetes and rising obesity rates, “the culprit is ‘junk food,’” Anand Grover, the UN representative for the right to health said in 2014. “Containing high levels of sugar, salt, trans-fats and saturated fats, this ‘junk’ has unfortunately replaced healthy foods in our diets,” Grover said.
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