YP-CDN Monthly Newsletter


Newsletter//December 9, 2014

Join Us On NCDs & Trade!

Cognizant of the growing number of bilateral and regional trade agreements under negotiation, and concerned about the potential consequences for public health policy and the spread of NCDs, YP-CDN is excited to be setting up a Working Group on NCDs and Trade alongside the NCDtrade Listserv. The Working Group is seeking dedicated individuals who are interested in raising awareness around the links between trade agreements and health equity,  collaborating to increase public discourse and scrutiny, and to instigate policy change at the national and international levels. The NCDtrade Listserv provides a space to connect individuals within academia and civil society who are currently engaging in, or interested in engaging in, research and activism around international trade and investment agreements and NCDs and will be a platform for knowledge-sharing and information exchange for those who would like to stay informed on the topic, but may not have time to participate actively in Working Group. To join the listeserv or the Working Group, please contact

Advocates Call for Food Treaty at the ICN2

On November 17-21, 2014, member states gathered in Rome for the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), bringing together experts on global health, under- and over-nutrition, food supply, and non-communicable and communicable disease, with the overall aim to address malnutrition in all its forms.

In conjunction with ICN2, over 300 of the world’s leading health campaigners, academics, consumer advocates, and civil society organizations rallied together to publicly endorse calls for a tobacco-style treaty to protect and promote healthy diets. The calls for a binding treaty on food were published in an open letter to the WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan and FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva, which was co-authored by representatives from YP-CDN, the World Obesity Federation, Consumers International, the UK Health Forum,  and consumer groups in Fiji and Mexico. The letter urges greater action to protect and promote healthy diets using a similar mechanism to the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) which has been successful in reducing tobacco use.

The nutrition-related health grievances that we see today are primarily a result of the food environments we live in, and this is true for both under- and over-nutrition. For instance, clear correlations are often seen between the introduction of global food brands into a country and a rise in obesity.  Areas where this relationship has been most heavily observed include: Mexico, China and the Middle East. The letter calls on governments to take concerted regulatory action to improve food environments, such as reducing children’s exposure to marketing, imposing compositional limits on saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium content of food, bringing in fiscal measures to discourage the consumption of unhealthy foods, and requiring all trade and investment policies to be assessed for their potential health impacts.

The open letter states that “the governance of food production and distribution cannot be left to economic interests alone.” Put simply, businesses are accountable to their shareholders, who expect them to make large profits. Thus, when left to their own devices, businesses are unlikely to implement a policy which puts them at a competitive disadvantage or reduces their profit-margins. While a few examples of successful voluntary policies do exist, most voluntary mechanisms are widely shown to be ineffective.

Although the WHO’s NCD Action Plan (adopted in 2013) highlights a number of upstream “best buy” policy options for tackling NCDs that are linked to food and nutrition, there is no legally binding mechanism to ensure that these actions are implemented by member states. The treaty calls for checks and balances to ensure that food policies put into practice and followed.

If you want to support these calls to action, please show your solidarity via social media, using the hashtag #FoodTreatyNow. 

YPer of the Month:  Ana Paula Bortoletto

Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Profession/Research Area: Nutritionist with PhD in Public Health Nutrition
YP Member for how many years: just for a few months…(Since August 2014)

1. Tell us about an NCD policy challenge that the Government of Brazil has experienced. What were the barriers and what changes are needed for Brazil to meet it's 25x25 commitments?
I think that the most recent and important NCD policy is the publication of the new Brazilian Dietary Guidelines of the Ministry of Health. It includes recommendations for the healthy population to prevent diet-related NCDs, including obesity, diabetes and hypertension. It is translated to English and available here. It is not a policy, but I think it it will be a very important document for the new policies. 
The changes needed for Brazil are to increase the availability and access of fresh foods, with good prices for all and reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods that are rich in sugar, salt and calories. Two important barriers are the excessive and aggressive food marketing strategies, specially for children, mostly of ultra-processed foods and to improve the quality of the meals served at School (School Feeding Program). This last barrier is already changing.

2. Who do you admire? 
I think it is very difficult to point just one or even a few names… My PhD advisor, Professor Carlos Monteiro, certainly is one of them, but I also admire many researchers and professors that conduct relevant studies that contribute to build, evaluate and monitor public health policies. I also admire many professionals from civil society organizations and the government that are working on public polices to tackle the risk factors of NCDs and are mobilizing the public opinion to discuss this issue.

3. The global community called for a treaty on food during the ICN2.  Why is such a treaty important?
I think that it has a very strong significance to establish priorities on all governments’ agendas regarding food and nutrition. Also, it is important to debate and show that the solution of most of the problems of malnutrition and unhealthy diets have common determinants, which must be tackled together by all countries. For example, the influence of the food industry on the food regulation agenda in many countries. I think that the immediate next steps will be to establish a working group with representatives of different countries to discuss about the importance and the construction of the treaty. Unfortunately, not many countries have yet expressed that they are willing to do it.

4. Have you read any interesting books recently? 
I have read two very interesting books recently: “Cook”, by Michael Pollan and “Malcomidos” by Soledad Barruti. Both are journalists that are producing extremely interesting books and papers about food and nutrition from a broader perspective of the food system.

5. What is your vision for the future of global nutrition? 
I hope that global nutrition will have a better governance framework and that the access to healthy and sustainable food and to information will be much better. Also, I hope that the food environment will be improved so that people from all countries will be able to make healthier food choices, because this will be the easiest choice.
Donate to YP-CDN this holiday season!

Upcoming YP Speaks Sessions: 

December 17th, 12-12:30 p.m. EST:  Jonathan Jay (and Chelsey Canavan) from Management Sciences for Health (MSH)
Title: "'Why the Chronic Disease Response needs Universal Health Coverage"
January 6th, 12-12:30 p.m. EST: Genevieve Bois, Spokesperson, Quebec Tobacco Coalition 
Title: "Tobacco Control and NCDs"

Movements We Support 

#FoodTreatyNow: Call for a binding treaty on food and nutrition.· 

#SaveOurMedicines: Stop U.S. pressure on India to change its intellectual property system.

The Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment has written a letter to the US Trade Rep, asking the U.S. Government not to pressurize India to reject a cancer drug license, as well as a letter to Tufts University on the recent report that it costs USD 2.6 billion to develop a new drug-- a number that even the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline called "a myth."

Upcoming Events

14th World Congress on Public Health (February 11-15), Kolkata, India
16th World Congress on Tobacco or Health (March 17-21, 2015), Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mobilizing Research for Global Health (March 26-28, 2015), Boston, MA, USA
Global Health & Innovation Conference (March 28-29, 2015), New Haven, CT, USA

Short Course on Prevention Strategies for NCDs (March 22-27, 2015), Oxford University, Oxford, UK (scholarships available)

Coursera Courses on NCDs and Related Topics
Diabetes: A Global Challenge
Healthcare Informatics and Data Analytics
The American Disease: Drugs and Drug Control in the USA
Health for All Through Primary Health Care


NCDs in the News

Ban-Ki Moon issues report on post-2015 development goals (The UN)

U.S. Think Tank Council on Foreign Relations releases report, "The Emerging Global Health Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countries" (CFR)

Active surveillance for rheumatic heart disease in endemic regions (The Lancet)

Diabetes in midlife tied to memory problems late in life (New York Times)

New WHO guide to prevent and control cervical cancer (WHO)

Days of Note

December 10: Human Rights Day
December 12: Universal Health Coverage Day

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