/publications/issue/2004/2004-07/2004-07-8043

WHO Has a Plan to Fight Obesity

Author: Susan Farley

In Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted a plan to make healthier food and exercise more accessible to people around the globe. The strategy includes recommendations to reduce sugar, fat, and salt in processed food; controlling the marketing of food to children; and more comprehensive food labeling.The plan also offers ideas to encourage children to make healthier food choices at school, along with the subsidization of fruits and vegetables in school lunches, and developing safer walkways and bicycling paths.

WHO officials note that problems caused by excess weight and obesity now afflict more people than does malnutrition. From a business perspective, the stigmatization of products known to lead to obesity has created a buzz in the corporate world. Financial analysts have begun to warn investors against stocks for some food companies because of the obesity-promoting nature of the products. The WHO plan also may find success in the corporate world because of the fear that many company executives have of massive damages from consumer lawsuits blaming them for people's obesity.