9/16/11 (AEIN) An expert on human rights at the United Nations urged countries worldwide to take steps aimed at reducing the consumption of unhealthy foods. Olivier De Schutte warned that such foods cause severe health consequences and contribute to rapidly increasing medical expenses, according to a U.N. statement issued on Friday.
The expert suggested that governments should regulate the marketing of harmful foods to children, adjust farm subsidies and increase the sales taxes on unhealthy items. Saying that "voluntary guidelines are not enough," he urged political leaders to reject pressure from the industry. He cautioned that globalization had made "junk food" more accessible worldwide.
Olivier De Schutte pointed to some of the consequences of unhealthy eating, such as a fifty percent increase in the public health costs among OECD countries during the past decade. The OECD members include much of Europe, Turkey, Japan, Mexico, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States.
The expert also warned that illnesses related to excessive body weight lead to nearly three million adult deaths every year, based upon World Health Organization statistics. Such causes of death include diabetes, heart disease (ischaemic) and some types of cancer. Diabetes was cited as the most common among deadly obesity-related illnesses, causing about 1.23 million such deaths each year.
Unhealthy foods come in a variety of forms, though most commonly as restaurant meals, sugary drinks, processed foods and snacks. Global trade has spread high-sugar and high-fat items such as Coca Cola and McDonald's hamburgers to many countries throughout the world. Also, some manufacturers have raised salt and sugar content to cut costs.