[28 January/Radio NZ]

A new international report is calling for global action over obesity, under-nutrition and climate change. The report which has been prepared by the Lancet Obesity Commission (a group established by the Lancet and co-chaired by Boyd Swinburn of Auckland University) says obesity, under-nutrition and climate change are usually viewed as separate but share “key drivers” and fuel each other. It suggests malnutrition in all its forms, including obesity, under-nutrition and “other dietary risks”, is the leading cause of poor health globally, adding that in the near future the health effects of climate change will considerably compound these health challenges. Specifically on obesity, the report says many evidence-based policy recommendations to halt and reverse obesity rates have been endorsed by member states at successive World Health Assembly meetings over nearly three decades, but have not yet been translated into meaningful and measurable change. The report suggests there is insufficient public demand for action to overcome industry opposition and governance reluctance.  The report’s recommendations include a new global treaty on food systems (similar to those on tobacco control and climate change), redirection of subsidies towards healthy and sustainable foods and energy, a philanthropic fund of USD1 billion to support social movements that demand action and “a seven-generations fund” to research and apply indigenous and traditional knowledge and views about living well while nurturing the environment.