Upping the game: True Health Initiative urges G7 health ministers to food system transformation
November 14, 2017
by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News and ReportsEditor’s note: This analysis article is not edited and the authors are solely responsible for the content. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Integrative Practitioner.The True Health Initiative (THI) – a global collaboration of over 400 scientists, researchers and public health professionals from 38 countries -- has fired off a letter to the health ministers from the G7 (Group of 7) nations calling for transformational change in the food industry. The letter was slated to arrive just as the set of powerful ministers of health met in Milan November 6-7, 2017. THI called for “radical food system change.”The letter was sent to the chair of the G7 Health Ministers, Beatrice Lorenzin, the Minister of Health for Italy. THI’s letter quickly declared the problems and announced: “We are calling for actionable policies and directives including, but not limited to, a long term and integrated approach to ensure safe and sustainable food systems, economic measures to reverse the growing dependency on highly processed and unhealthy foods and significant new investment in nutrition education.”The letter went out over the names of THI founder and Yale integrative medicine leader David Katz, MD, MPH and UK physician and medical policy activist Simon Poole, MD. Beneath their names were those of over four dozen from THI’s sterling list of members of its global Council.In an e-mail for this article, Poole noted that the very publication of the letter by such a broad group of co-signers was already a win. Among THI’s goals is to make clear that, despite the “diet debates,” a very high level of consensus about healthy food and nutrition status exists among advocates of diverse nutrition strategies. The call to move away from present food industry practices is a key area of agreement. Poole found it “particularly powerful … to produce a concise consensus forming an alliance of many THI members and other parties.”The THI team argues a consensus is emerging such as has developed in the similarly contentious realm of climate science. Poor clinical outcomes from current nutrition policies are just one issue. In a subheading they directly announce the systemic harm: “Modern Diets Imperil our Environment.” THI urged the G7 governments “to fulfill their obligations to secure the health and wellbeing of future generations” through these actions:
- “Policies that recognize the need for a long term and integrated approach to ensure safe and sustainable food systems - acknowledging the evidence for the health and environmental benefits of local, traditional ways of production and preparation.
- “Robust and resolute economic measures to support the production and sale of more healthy food - including financial incentivization and taxation where necessary, which will encourage investment in viable alternatives to current production and marketing practices making access to healthy foods more available and affordable.
- “Significant investment in nutrition education – with ‘food literacy’ the right of every child to be taught a much broader understanding of basic nutritional principles, techniques of preparing healthy food, the impact of diet on health, as well as providing access to the evidence of the environmental consequences of dietary choice.