Dr Tom Frieden,
Dear colleagues and friends,
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, and a very happy New Year to you all.
Around the world, millions of people have begun the new year with a resolution to lose weight, get fit and to eat a more healthy diet.
Unhealthy diet remains a leading risk factor for death and disability globally.
Around 8 million deaths every year are attributable to unhealthy diets, and another 8 million deaths are attributable to obesity and maternal and child undernutrition.
Promoting healthy diets is critically important now more than ever, as the world is continuing to face the COVID-19 pandemic.
Healthy diets can help support the body’s immune system, fight infections, and protect against all forms of malnutrition and noncommunicable diseases.
Every day, the health of millions of people is affected by the food and drink served and sold in public places, such as government offices, schools, hospitals, care homes, prisons, and in nearby shops or stalls.
Many governments also buy food for government-funded programmes, such as school meal programmes.
All governments therefore have the opportunity and the responsibility to prevent disease and save lives in the food they buy and supply.
The action framework we are launching today provides governments with a tool for taking action to ensure a healthier food environment in all public settings.
My thanks and congratulations to Francesco and his team at WHO, and to Tom and your colleagues at Resolve to Save Lives for your collaboration on this very important product.
There are three key ways in which we are urging governments to take action.
First, lead by example.
Governments can make a difference by serving and selling food that contributes to healthy diets.
Public funds should not be spent on food that contributes to unhealthy diets.
This requires strengthening or expanding policies for food purchased, served or sold in public settings, or developing new policies.
Second, take a comprehensive approach.
Buying and serving healthy food must be part of a comprehensive and coherent package of policy actions to ensure that food systems contributes to healthy diets.
And third, support WHO’s continued commitment to healthy diets.
In September last year, WHO launched the 2nd progress report on Global Trans Fat Elimination, to support our global goal to eliminate industrially-produced trans fat from the global food supply by 2023.
The number of countries passing and implementing best practice policies is growing, with almost 600 million people globally now benefiting from such policies.
WHO is also developing a global sodium benchmark to reduce the sodium and salt content of various food items.
We face an enormous challenge. But we also have an enormous opportunity to improve the health and well-being of people all over the world.
I would like to thank Dr Tom Frieden and our friends at Resolve to Save Lives for their partnership and leadership on these issues.
We look forward to our continued work together to make sure that food is a source of health, not a cause of disease, for people everywhere.
I thank you.