a1 World Health Policy Forum, 24 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011, USA
Objective: To indicate why the world's most powerful nation state and one powerful sector of the food and drink production and manufacturing industry are determined to demolish the 2004 WHO (World Health Organization) global strategy on diet, physical activity and health, and to disassociate it from the 2003 WHO/FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) expert report on diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases, which with its background papers is the immediate scientific basis for the strategy. To encourage representatives of nation states at the 2004 WHO World Health Assembly to support the strategy together with the report, so that the strategy is explicit and quantified, and responds to the need expressed by member states at the 2002 World Health Assembly. This is for an effective global strategy to prevent and control chronic diseases whose prevalence is increased by nutrient-poor food low in vegetables and fruits and high in energy-dense fatty, sugary and/or salty foods and drinks and also by physical inactivity. Of these diseases, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers of several sites are now the chief causes of morbidity and mortality in most countries in the world.
Method: A summary of the global strategy and its roots in scientific knowledge accumulated over the last half-century. Reasons why the global strategy and the expert report are opposed by the current US government and the world sugar industry, with some reference to modern historical context. A summary of the trajectory of the global strategy since its first draft made in early 2003, and a further summary of its weaknesses, strengths and potential.
Conclusion: The 2004 WHO global strategy and the 2003 WHO/FAO expert report are perceived by the current US administration as an impediment to US trade and international policy, within a general context of current US government hostility to the UN (United Nations) system as a brake on the exercise of its power as the world's dominant nation. Policy-makers throughout the world should be aware of the contexts of current pressures put on them by powerful nation states and sectors of industry whose ideologies and commercial interests are challenged by international initiatives designed to improve public health and to leave a better legacy for future generations.
(Received March 19 2004)
(Accepted March 26 2004)