In a major blow to the processed and fast food industry, in a statement earlier this week, the United Nations called the ubiquity of junk food a human rights concern.
“Within the human rights framework, states are obliged to ensure effective measures to regulate the food industry, ensure that nutrition policymaking spaces are free from private sector influence and implement comprehensive policies that combat malnutrition in all its forms,” Hilal Elver, the U.N.’s special representative on the right to food, said on Tuesday.
Elver says the widespread rise in production of processed foods, along with looser trade regulations has led to a flooded global market filled with, “cheap, nutrient-poor foods that force poor people to choose between economic viability and nutrition, effectively violating their right to adequate food,” reports CBS.
Current nutrient deficiencies around the globe are higher among those with access to junk food than among those living in hunger. There are more than two billion people suffering from micro-nutrient deficiencies around the world, with about 600 million of those clinically obese people, compared with 800 million people battling a chronic lack of food.
“The first step is to recognize nutrition as an essential component of the human right to adequate food, reinforced by monitoring accountability and transparency,” Elver said.
The UN representative says the international community is not keeping up pledges to meet nutrition targets, leading to the widespread malnutrition epidemic.
Among the culprits most at fault and most easily corrected are marketing efforts for junk and processed food companies, says Elver, who also urged governments to move away from industrialized food system and instead, notes CBS “embrace more sustainable systems based on ecological balance.”
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