Leaders must take a hard line against powerful commercial interests and re-think global economic incentives within the food system to tackle the joint pandemics of obesity, undernutrition and climate change according to a major new report by the Lancet Commission on Obesity.
The Commission is calling for the establishment of a new global treaty on food systems, similar to global conventions for tobacco control and climate change, to restrict the influence of the food industry in policy-making and mobilise national action for healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems.
The new report levels strong accusations against the ‘Big Food’ sector. It says attempts to include sustainability in national dietary guidelines in the USA and Australia failed as a result of food industry pressure. It details how in 2016-2017, the sugary drinks sector spent US$50 million to lobby against local initiatives to reduce soda consumption.
It highlights the importance of public pressure, pointing out that the mobilisation of the public was crucial in introducing a sugary drinks tax in Mexico, despite strong resistance from the beverage industry. Within two years of the introduction of a 10 per cent tax, consumption of sugary drinks was reduced by 7.6 per cent.