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Statement to the 67th Session of the WHO Regional Office for Europe on the Progress Report on the Implementation of the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015-2020

World Cancer Research Fund International, with the European Public Health Alliance, the International Society of Nephrology, and the World Heart Federation, welcomes the Progress Report by the WHO Regional Office for Europe on the Food and Nutrition Action Plan. Encouraging progress has been made by Member States to develop, implement and evaluate policies to promote healthy diets and address the high rates of overweight, obesity and diet-related NCDs. We recognise the important role the WHO Regional Office for Europe has played in moving evidence into action, notably through: the development of a regional nutrient profile model; the publication of the report on protecting children from digital marketing of foods high in fat, sugars and salt; and the initiative to draw attention to maternal & infant health care issues in obesity prevention, and the need for ensuring consistent best practices across the region. These efforts have supported several Member States to develop food procurement guidelines and regulations in public institutions, fiscal policies and front of pack labelling.

However, the prevalence of overweight, obesity and diet-related NCDs remains at a critical high, with lower-income countries struggling to make progress and social inequalities in obesity persisting across Member States. Ensuring policy coherence, addressing the commercial determinants of weight, and adopting a range of strategies which improve food systems and food supply is vital to promote healthy and sustainable diets. As such, we welcome future initiatives by the WHO Regional Office for Europe to support Member States to analyse and address how incentives in the food supply chain can be improved to promote, protect and reinstate healthy and sustainable diets. Further, we encourage the WHO Regional Office for Europe to develop regionally appropriate support and guidance to Member States by building on the work done to date by the WHO on defining the inappropriate promotion of foods to infants and young children, and on preventing and managing conflicts of interest in policy development.

Finally, we call on Member States to prioritise the further implementation of the Food and Nutrition Action Plan, develop national evaluation strategies and lead through social innovation to ensure that the burden of preventable diet-related NCDs is significantly reduced by 2020.

Statement supported by:

World Obesity Federation

Union for International Cancer Control

European Heart Network

NCD Alliance

Nikolai Pushkarev

Policy Coordinator for Food, Drink and Agriculture

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