Oral Presentation ANZOS-OSSANZ-AOCO Joint Annual Scientific Meeting 2017

Knowledge, Policy and Action: obesity prevention progress in the Americas (#136)

Fabio Gomes 1
  1. Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC, United States

The prevalence of overweight and obesity reaches 61% in the Americas. Caribbean and North-American countries have the highest rates in the Region. With the saturation of ultra-processed products’ markets at very high levels in the northern hemisphere, Latin America and the Caribbean became major targets for their expansion. Such expansion has been displacing health promoting and sustainable diets and food systems fuelling the explosive increasing rates of obesity in the region. In response, knowledge production around the problem, its causes and solutions has progressed rapidly and has been supporting the development of policies and actions. This includes contribution from a myriad of scientific knowledge fields and expertise beyond nutrition, including, psychology, neurobiology, psychophysics, marketing, as well as social and political sciences. In addition, popular and traditional knowledge also played an essential role on finding solutions and setting the horizons to advance. Governments also took important steps at both national and regional levels to progress regulatory policies to (re)shape the food environment in favour of optimal nutrition and health. In 2014, all member states of the Pan-American Health Organization unanimously approved the Plan of Action for the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescent, under which countries committed to the implementation of fiscal policies, such as taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and energy-dense nutrient-poor products, regulation of food marketing and labeling, improvement of school nutrition and physical activity environments, and promotion of breastfeeding and healthy eating. Such policies have been brought to action all over the region, and evaluations of the first year(s) of implementation have been showing this set of regulatory policies being prioritized (taxation on non-recommended food and drink products, front-of-package warning labels, marketing restrictions, food procurement regulations for schools and other settings) is on the right track.