Ultra-processed Foods, Alcohol Contribute To 2.7 Million Deaths A Year In Europe: WHO

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, launched the report at a day-long event in Brussels.
Ultra-processed Foods, Alcohol Contribute To 2.7 Million Deaths A Year In Europe

Ultra-processed Foods, Alcohol Contribute To 2.7 Million Deaths A Year In Europe. (Image credits: iStock)

A new report by the World Health Organization calls for "strict regulation" and for officials to push health policies which are regularly "challenged, delayed, weakened or stooped" by the industry. The report revealed that over 7,400 people dying every day in Europe because of harmful products and practices. The report read, "These commercial products contribute to 24 per cent of all deaths, including significant mortality from cardiovascular diseases (51.4 per cent) and cancer (46.4 per cent)."
Further, it revealed that globally tobacco, ultra-processed foods, fossil fuels and alcohol cause 19 million deaths per year, which is 34 per cent of all deaths.
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, launched the report at a day-long event in Brussels. It was launched in partnership with the WHO European Forum on Commercial Determinants of NCDs, hosted by the Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.
The report further shed light on the tactics that industry resorts to for maximizing their profits and undermining public health. "Those practices fuel inequality and rates of cancer, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, and create a major barrier to prevention policies. The report identifies actions for governments, academia and civil society to reduce the disproportionate influence of the commercial sector in the health policy sphere," a WHO news release said.
If we break down the data, WHO said that 1.15 million deaths annually in Europe are caused by smoking, 426,857 are caused by alcohol, 117,290 are caused by diets high in processed meat and 252,187 by diets high in salt.
Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said, "Four industries kill at least 7,000 people in our region every day. The same large commercial entities block regulation that would protect the public from harmful products and marketing, and protect health policy from industry interference."
He further added, "Industry tactics include exploitation of vulnerable people through targeted marketing strategies, misleading consumers, and making false claims about the benefits of their products or their environmental credentials."
According to the WHO news release, the report comes as a call to action for the 53 Member States in the European Region to address the major threat of NCDs by tackling commercial influence at all levels, including:
  • Marketing of health-harming products
  • Monopolistic practices
  • Transparency and lobbying
  • Taxation of multinational corporations
  • Job security and labor conditions
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