Washington, D.C., 17 May 2016 (PAHO/WHO) — The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) hosted a roundtable discussion today on multisectoral action to reduce obesity in children and adolescents. The meeting brought together representatives from governments, private sector associations, nongovernmental organizations and PAHO's Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health.
The focus of the meeting was the implementation of the Plan of Action for the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescents, adopted by PAHO Member States in 2014. The plan sets out lines of action to address the epidemic of obesity and overweight, which is contributing to rising rates of chronic noncommunicable diseases throughout the Americas.
Among other actions, the PAHO Plan of Action calls for fiscal policies and regulatory measures to make healthier options easier for people to choose. These measures include taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and energy-dense nutrient-poor products, regulations to protect children from the impact of advertising and marketing of unhealthy foods, and front-of-package labeling that allows quick and easy identification of unhealthy products.
The plan also calls for policies and programs for schools that promote consumption of healthy foods and water while preventing the consumption of energy-dense nutrient-poor products.
In addition, the plan calls for promotion of breastfeeding and increased physical activity in schools.
Representatives of the Ministries of Health of Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico presented their countries' progress in implementing the PAHO Plan of Action and described some of the challenges they have had to overcome or that they continue to face.
Other participants included representatives from Argentina's Foundation for the Development of Sustainable Policies (FUNDEP), the Frente por un Chile Saludable and Chile Alimentos, Brazil's Council on Food Security (CONSEA) and the Brazilian Association of Food Industries (ABIA), Mexico's El Poder del Consumidor and the Mexican Council of the Consumer Products Industry (ConMexico), and the Latin American Alliance of Associations of the Food and Beverage Industry (ALAIAB). They exchanged viewpoints on the PAHO plan of action and on the role of different sectors in supporting the plan's strategic lines of action or in contributing to efforts to reduce child obesity in general.