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‘Junk food’: bad for your health, bad for your rights, warns UN expert

June 23, 2014

UN News Centre – Challenging the world to get serious about the battle against “junk food,” a United Nations health expert today called on all countries to urgently adopt measures that promote the availability and nutritious value of healthy foods and regulate the marketing of sugary drinks, burgers, pizzas and potato chips – foods that, ultimately, are as deadly as they are tasty.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, blamed junk food – ultra-processed and ready to eat, but energy-dense and containing “empty calories” devoid of nutritional value –for the global obesity epidemic and urged the international community to deal with the alarming increase in deaths from diet-related diseases.

Presenting his final final report to the UN Human Rights Council, which began its 26th session in Geneva yesterday, the Special Rapporteur warned delegations about disturbing figures, according to which 2.1 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, and at least 2.8 million die every year because of their weight.

“The culprit is ‘junk food,’” Mr. Grover said. “Containing high levels of sugar, salt, trans-fats and saturated fats, this ‘junk’ has unfortunately replaced healthy foods in our diets.”

Primarily responsible for the burgeoning rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases across the world, “junk food is not a simple public health issue or a medical concern, it poses a serious challenge to our lives, our health and our rights,” he added.

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