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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. (Representational image). 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

Lazy Infants More Likely to Suffer From Obesity

Less active babies have higher obesity risk

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Infant obesity
Less active infants may accumulate more fat, which in turn may put them at risk for obesity later in life. Pixabay

Parents, please take note. Researchers have revealed that less active infants may accumulate more fat, which in turn may put them at risk for obesity later in life.

For the study, published in the journal Obesity, researchers tracked the physical activity levels of 506 infants using small ankle-worn accelerometers for four days per tracking period at ages 3, 6, 9, and 12 months.

For each tracking period after 3, average physical activity increased by about four per cent, in line with infants becoming generally more mobile and active over the course of their first year.

Among infants, higher physical activity measured by the accelerometer was associated with lower central adiposity, a measure of lower-torso fat accumulation, the study said.

Infant obesity
These days, infants are spending more and more sedentary time in car seats, high chairs, strollers and it may lead to obesity. Pixabay

“This is the first study to demonstrate an association over time between higher levels of objectively measured physical activity and lower central adiposity in infancy,” said study lead author Sara Benjamin-Neelon from Johns Hopkins University in US.

The study was part of a larger study of infant growth and obesity, called the Nurture study, which covered 666 mothers and their infants from the greater Durham, North Carolina, area during 2013 to 2016.

Of this group, the research team were able to get adequate accelerometer data for 506 infants.

“Some evidence suggests that the earlier you can get infants crawling and walking, and providing them with opportunities to move freely throughout the day, the more you can help protect them against later obesity,” Benjamin-Neelon said.

The study found that among the infants in the study, an increase in recorded activity by one “standard deviation”–essentially a standard proportion of the range of the data–was associated with a small but significant decrease in central adiposity.

Also Read- Males Have Higher Risk of Suffering from Cancer: Study

The researcher noted that larger, longer-term studies will be necessary to determine the sustained effect of infant physical activity, but that preventing extended periods of inactivity for infants will almost certainly be good for them.

“These days, infants are spending more and more sedentary time in car seats, high chairs, strollers–and perhaps we haven’t thought enough about the developmental ramifications of these types of restrictive devices,” Benjamin-Neelon concluded. (IANS)