WHO urges public facilities to prioritize healthy food

GENEVA, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday advocated governments to promote healthy food in public facilities, and to increase the availability of healthy food through setting nutrition criteria for food served and sold in public settings.

WHO said in a statement issued Tuesday that public settings, such as schools, childcare centers, nursing homes, hospitals and correctional facilities and all other canteens of public institutions, can play a key role in ensuring people are provided with healthy food and helping prevent the 8 million annual deaths currently caused by unhealthy diets.

"Public places that serve the entire community, including our most vulnerable populations, must be places where healthy diets are promoted not discouraged," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The statement followed the launch of a WHO action framework for healthy diets in public facilities, which will serve as tools for government and public institutions to make better decisions when providing meals.

Somewhat eclipsed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, obesity and overweight are still major public health issues, WHO said.

In 2016, the WHO reported that 650 million adults were obese, 1.9 million adults were overweight and that people with these health conditions died with a higher prevalence than underweight people.

To answer these issues and make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to the action framework, WHO said it will take "bold actions" during the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021.

"Now is the time for governments to lead by example through ensuring that the food served or sold in public settings contributes to healthy diets and saves lives. No public funds should be spent on food contributing to unhealthy diets," Tedros said.

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