Over the past two decades, obesity, under nutrition and climate change have been viewed as separate, and policy responses have been unacceptably slow due to reluctance of policy makers to implement effective policies, powerful opposition by vested commercial interests, and insufficient demand for change by the public and civil society.
Undernutrition is declining too slowly to meet global targets, no country has reversed its obesity epidemic, and comprehensive policy responses to the threat of climate change have barely begun.
The Commission describe below, these interacting pandemics represent The Global Syndemic with common, underlying drivers in the food, transport, urban design, and land use systems.
Strong and concerted efforts are required by multiple actors to implement double-duty and triple-duty actions to address the systems that drive The Global Syndemic.
These synergistic actions will be essential to achieve planetary health, which the commission define as the health and wellbeing of humans and the natural environments we depend on.
Malnutrition in all its forms, including undernutrition and obesity, is by far the biggest cause of ill-health and premature death globally. Both undernutrition and obesity are expected to be made significantly worse by climate change.
The report follows the publication (17 Jan) of the Lancet-EAT Commission, which provided the first scientific targets for a healthy diet within planetary boundaries.
Now, the new report analyses the wider systems underpinning the global obesity pandemic, and identifies solutions to address decades of policy failure.
In regards with this study Professor K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, said, “The world today is suffering the consequences of growing inequalities and overconsumption of resources resulting in the confluence of an obesity epidemic, climate change and persistent pockets of undernutrition.”
He added, “This syndemic calls for a concerted root cause response which brings agriculture and food systems, transport industry and energy production in to the common groove of sustainable development.”
He further said, “From availability and affordability of healthy foods to walkable, cycle friendly streets and energy conserving mass transport, the agenda for action is clear. Governments and business cannot shrug away their responsibility as the health and environmental costs mount’.”