UN expert: Junk food is a human rights concern

October 25, 2016 by Michael Astor

A U.N. expert says junk food is a human rights concern.

Hilal Elver, the U.N.'s special representative on the right to food, said Tuesday the rise of industrial food production combined with trade liberalization has allowed large corporations to flood the global market with cheap, nutrient-poor foods that force poor people to choose between economic viability and nutrition, effectively violating their right to adequate food.

"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," she said.

Elver said that countries must go beyond simply ensuring their people the minimum requirements needed for survival and ensure access to food that is nutritionally adequate. She said that the international community is failing to meet globally agreed upon nutrition targets that seek to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms.

She said that while there were nearly 800 million people living in hunger around the globe, more than 2 billion people suffer from micro-nutrient deficiency and another 600 million people are obese, meaning nearly half the world's population could be considered without access to inadequate food.

Elver said she was particularly concerned by aggressive marketing strategies to promote junk food to children and developing countries. And she called on governments to move away from industrial food systems and embrace more sustainable systems based on ecological balance.

"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.

Explore further: Nutritionists must take a bigger piece of the pie when it comes to influencing food policy

Related Stories

Nutritionists must take a bigger piece of the pie when it comes to influencing food policy

October 24, 2016
Nutrition professionals need to step up to the plate and gain a larger portion of influence on food policy in Australia to dilute the heavy concentration of 'food industry' representatives with direct links to food policy ...

People buy most of their junk food at the supermarket

August 9, 2016
An analysis of a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults reveals that access to healthy foods in a supermarket does not hinder Americans' consumption of empty calories. In fact, the study found, U.S. adults buy the ...

Nutrition and health claims could mislead consumers

August 11, 2016
Consumers need to be better protected from misleading nutrition and health claims on food packaging, according to new research.

Food banks addressing obesity with nutrition-related policies

February 27, 2013
Food banks are altering their nutrition-related policies and practices to address concerns about the rise in obesity and diet-related diseases among individuals struggling to afford food, according to a study by the Yale ...

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jackcandobutwont
not rated yet Oct 25, 2016
U.N.'s special representative on the right to food.....ya just can't make shit like this up...a right to food rep!!! ha ha ha ha ha
borntobepoliticle
not rated yet Oct 25, 2016
That's right, you all are to stupid to make decisions on what to eat, so we will decide for you. Sit down shut up and take your SOMA.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.