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Governments To Curb Political Influence Of Major Corporations To Tackle Several Global Crisis: Study

This is the final vindication for those of us who have warned about the slippery slope of regulation

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Obesity
An overweight woman sits on a chair in Times Square in New York, May 8, 2012. VOA

To defeat the intertwined pandemics of obesity, hunger and climate change, governments must curb the political influence of major corporations, said a major report Monday calling for a ‘global treaty’ similar to one for tobacco control.

But this will not happen unless ordinary citizens demand a “radical rethink” of the relationship between policymakers and business, nearly four dozen experts from The Lancet Commission on Obesity concluded.

“Powerful opposition from vested interests, lack of political leadership, and insufficient societal demand for change are preventing action,” they said in a statement.

Nearly a billion people are hungry and another two billion are eating too much of the wrong foods, causing epidemics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Children, Hunger
A severely malnourished boy rests on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen. VOA

Unhealthy diets account for up to 11 million premature deaths every year, according to the most recent Global Disease Burden report.

“Malnutrition in all its forms — including undernutrition and obesity — is by far the biggest cause of ill-health and premature death globally,” said Commission co-chair Boyd Swinburn, a professor at the University of Aukland.

“Both undernutrition and obesity are expected to be made significantly worse by climate change.”

The way in which food is currently produced, distributed and consumed not only fuels the hunger and obesity pandemics, it also generates 25 to 30 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Cattle production alone accounts for more than have of those gases, in the form of methane-laden flatulence and CO2 when forests — especially in Brazil — are cleared to accommodate livestock.

Climate, emissions
– Greenpeace activists wear white morphsuits as they stage an action against particulate matter and health burden caused by diesel exhaust in Stuttgart, southern Germany. VOA

A transport system dominated by cars contributes another 15 to 25 percent of emissions, and supports a sedentary lifestyle.

– Triple pandemic –

“Underpinning all of these are weak political governance, the unchallenging economic pursuit of GPD growth, and the powerful commercial engineering of overconsumption,” the report said.

“Undernutrition is declining too slowly to meet global targets, no country has reversed its obesity epidemic, and comprehensive policy responses to the threat of climate change have barely begun.”

Despite 30 years of warnings from science about the dire impacts of global warming, CO2 emissions hit record levels in 2017 and again last year.

Because all these problems are interwoven, the answers must be too, the researchers emphasized.

BMI, Asthma Risk
High BMI in early life is linked to asthma risk later: Study. Pixabay

“Joining three pandemics” — hunger, obesity, climate — “together as ‘The Global Syndemic’ allows us to consider common drivers and shared solutions.”

Another Lancet Commission report published last week calling for a dramatic shift in global diet to improve health and avoid “catastrophic” damage to the planet.

“Until now, undernutrition and obesity have been seen as polar opposites of either too few or too many calories,” said Swinburn.

“In reality, they are both driven by the same unhealthy, inequitable food systems, underpinned by the same political economy.”

The report calls for a Framework Convention on Food Systems — similar to global conventions for tobacco control and climate change — to restrict the influence of the food industry.

Cold drinks can cause tooth decay, obesity, etc. Wikimedia Commons
Cold drinks can cause tooth decay, obesity, etc. Wikimedia Commons

– How we eat, live, move –

The experts also argue that economic incentives must be overhauled.

Some five trillion dollars (4.4 trillion euros) in government subsidies for fossil fuels and large-scale agribusiness should be rechanneled toward “sustainable, healthy and environmentally friendly activities,” they said.

To sharply reduce red meat consumption, for example, the report favors high taxes, abolishing subsidies, along with transparent health and environment labeling.

In addition, they favor the creation of a one billion dollar philanthropic fund to support grassroots action.

“Tackling ‘The Global Syndemic’ requires an urgent rethink of how we eat, live, consume and move,” said Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet.

The two Lancet reports are not the only urgent appeal from science in recent months. In October, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change likewise called for an economic and social “paradigm shift” to avoid global chaos.

Reaction to the Lancet recommendations has been sharply divided. Health advocates and climate experts hailed its sweeping call for deep change.

U.N. Climate Conference
In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo a participant in U.N. climate conference walks by a photo of a satellite in Katowice, Poland. VOA

“For too long we have been day-dreaming our way to a diseased future,” said Katie Dain, CEO of the Noncommunicable Disease Alliance.

“A food system that secures a better diet for this and the immediate next generations will save millions of lives and, at the same time, help save the planet.”

Industry representatives and libertarians slammed the findings as overwrought and an assault on free choice.

Also Read: Eliminate World Hunger By Selling Burgers

“This is the final vindication for those of us who have warned about the slippery slope of regulation,” said Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs.

“Nanny-state zealots are no longer hiding their intention to use the anti-tobacco blueprint to control other areas of our lives.” (VOA)

Next Story

World Population Expected to Reach 9.7 Billion in 2050, United Nations Reports

The new population projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the projected population growth

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FILE - Faces in the crowd at the peace assembly in Kathmandu, May 7, 2010. VOA

The world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace but is still expected to increase from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, the United Nations said Monday.

The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said in a new report that world population could reach its peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century.

But Population Division Director John Wilmoth cautioned that because 2100 is many decades away this outcome “is not certain, and in the end the peak could come earlier or later, at a lower or higher level of total population.”

The new projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the projected growth between now and 2050. In descending order of the expected increase, they are: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States.

UN, World, Population
The world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace but is still expected to increase from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050. VOA

In sub-Saharan Africa, it is projected to nearly double by 2050, the report said.

Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Lu Zhenmin said in a statement: “Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty,” promote gender equality and improve health care and education.

The report confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels.

The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050.

Also Read- Important Ingredients to Look for in Your Beauty Products

A fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman is need to ensure population replacement and avoid declines, according to the report.

In 2019, the fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa was the highest at 4.6 births per woman, with Pacific islands, northern Africa, and western, central and southern Asia above the replacement level, the report said.

But since 2010, it said 27 countries or areas have lost one percent or more of their population.

“Between 2019 and 2050 populations are projected to decrease by one percent or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least 10 percent,” the U.N. said. “In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or around 2.2 percent, between 2019 and 2050.”

UN, World, Population
World population could reach its peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century. Pixabay

Wilmoth, the head of the Population Division, told a news conference launching the report that the population growth rate is slowing down as the fertility level gradually decreases. That decrease usually follows a reduction in the mortality level that initially instigated growth, he said.

Wilmoth stressed that multiple factors lead to lower fertility including increasing education and employment, especially for women, and more jobs in urban than rural areas, which motivate people away from costly large families to  smaller families.

But to achieve this, he said, people also need access to modern methods of contraception.

According to the “World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights” report, migration is also a major component of population growth or loss in some countries.

Also Read- Here’s How You Can go Environment-friendly During Menstruation

Between 2010 and 2020, it said 14 countries or areas will see a net inflow of more than one million migrants while 10 countries will experience a similar loss.

For example, some of the largest outflows of people — including from Bangladesh, Mepal and the Philippines — are driven by the demand for migrant workers, the report said. But some migrants are driven from their home countries by violence, insecurity and conflict, including from Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela.

The U.N. said countries experiencing a net inflow of migrants over the decade include Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. (VOA)