As a result of an invitation extended by the WHO European Region office, EPHA has published its feedback to the draft WHO European Region Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2014-2020.
Building up on EPHA’s response to the Second Food and Nutrition Plan 2007-2013 from 2006, we have analysed the proposed Action Plan for the years 2014-2020 and would like to present our initial observation as well as – where possible – suggest some improvements.
Alike in the case of the previous Action Plan, EPHA welcomes the specific commitment by the WHO Europe and its Member States to “guarantee universal access to food, equity and gender equality for the nutrition of all citizens of the WHO European Region through intersectoral policies” in order to “avoid premature death and significantly reduce the burden of preventable diet-related noncommunicable diseases, undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies by taking integrated action, improving the nutrition-related quality of life and making healthy life expectancy more equitable within and between Member States” by means of this renewed Food and Nutrition Action Plan for the years 2014-2020.
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We believe the burden of disease due to poor diet remains high and increasing, disproportionately affecting certain population groups and worsening along the social gradient justifying actions towards improved not only vulnerable groups but also population-wide nutrition initiatives. Whilst recognising the substantial impact the previous Action Plans made to tackle this problem, we envisage stepped-up efforts towards monitoring and evaluation of the implemented initiatives, also in light of the ongoing economic crisis and its potentially deleterious effect on Member States’ nutrition health policies. Whilst more than 90% of the Member States developed national policies tackling diet and nutrition related issues and this trend should continue, efforts should be made for the crisis not to perpetuate health outcomes achieved, intersectoral and intersocietal collaborations established. Where necessary, the existing food and nutrition policies should be adapted so to account for the changing economic landscape.
Changing economic climate requires changing of the status quo of food and nutrition policies; it requires proper implementation and evaluation of existing policies in place, as well as adequate enactment and assessment of new innovative activities, to give an example of the so-called ‘Danish tax’ only. Introduced in 2011, the fat tax in Denmark was abolished in 2012, and the planned sugar tax was announced not to be put into adoption either. Never properly evaluated, the fat tax was claimed to be expensive to administrate by producers and retailers, and that end users compensated for its financial burden by increased border shopping. The Danish Medical Association regretted the tax abolishment for public health reasons and called for other structural interventions to urgently address the growing obesity epidemic.
– full paper] [EPHA Reaction to WHO European Region Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2014-2020
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