The 1st UN Summit On Non-Communicable Diseases

The 1st UN Summit On Non-Communicable Diseases

Thu 08 Sep 2011

Story by The Food Revolution Team

This month the United Nations will meet for their first ever summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The NCD Summit 2011, officially called the 'High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases' will take place September 19-20 2011 in New York. It is expected that the Summit will generate global commitment and momentum to implement the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases.(1)

There are four types of non-communicable disease (NCD):

cardiovascular diseases [heart or blood vessels (arteries and veins)]
chronic respiratory diseases

These make the largest contribution to mortality in the majority of developing countries. These diseases are largely preventable by tackling four common risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.(1)

Unhealthy diets (especially those which have a high content in fats, free sugars and salt) and physical inactivity are among some of the leading causes of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases (CVD), type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. 2.8 million people die every year as a result of being overweight or obese.(2)

Obesity is prevalent in developed countries like the US - where at present rates 43% of Americans are predicted to be obese by 2018 (3) - and costs $10,273,973 per hour and is predicted to cost $15,753,425 per hour by 2030.(4)

US healthcare costs are 42% higher for someone who is obese meaning that currently obesity already accounts for 10% of the US healthcare spending; this amounts to $147 billion annually. Smoking, by comparison, costs $96 billion. (5)

Obesity is already a global problem in both developed and developing countries and its health costs will impact all countries facing it. The economic impact will be much more damaging for those countries with lower incomes that are less able to afford the rising costs. We need to revert the global trend of increasing obesity and the resultant cost to life and the economy.

Globally, obesity related illnesses count for as many deaths in young and middle aged adults as HIV/AIDS.(6) Diabetes, another diet-related disease, is also on the rise worldwide. Globally, 346 million people have diabetes with more than 80% of diabetes deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. (7)

This summit is our opportunity to acknowledge these preventable diseases as a global issue and make sure that action is taken.

Following his One Young World speech, Jamie is asking everyone to write to their UN Ambassador in New York using The NCD Alliance’s letter template to request your Head of State or Government to attend the summit.

You can download the Letter Template to send to your UN Ambassador here along with information on the global NCDs crisis, contact details for your representative and ways to Tweet or Facebook your Head of State to ask them to attend.

Sample tweet:

UN Sec Gen: Will you hold world leaders accountable for outcomes of #UNSummit on #NCDs? #FoodRevolution [PLEASE RT]

This also coincides with the second annual National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in the US this September, as designated by US President Barack Obama this summer. The spotlight is firmly on diet-related health risks and we all need to join the movement.

Together we can make sure this summit is a success, so make sure your country is represented!

The Food Revolution Team


(1) World Health Organization Fact Sheet on the NCD Summit
(2) Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010
(3) International Association for the Study of Obesity
(4) The Lancet
(5) Food Revolution Obesity and Diabetes Toolkit
(6) The world health report 2003 - Shaping the Future
(7) World Health Organization Diabetes Fact Sheet

Other references:

Jamie’s speech at One Young World

The NCD Alliance

European Society for Medical Oncology

UNite for a Healthy Future


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