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Rebalancing food patterns to tackle worldwide obesity epidemic

Background

Currently non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are on the rise worldwide. Societies face public health and economic challenges globally due to the continuous increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity. Besides sedentary lifestyle, the widespread use of energy-dense/nutrient-poor food items may be the main reason for weight gain. Previous attempts to cope with the pandemia of obesity (e.g. low cholesterol/fat/sugar campaigns) did not result in the desired effects on a public health level. Furthermore, the effort to reduce people’s energy intake might impair their nutrient balance, leading to potential insufficient or deficient status. Considering the beneficial impact of a nutrient dense/low energy diet on health, a more holistic approach through the nutrient density concept could help to rebalance diets and, ultimately, to reduce the incidence of obesity-related NCDs.

Objectives

This task force will comprehensively and critically review the scientific literature on the nutrient density concept and the application of available nutrient profiling tools, using a global approach, and bringing together a multisector panel of stakeholders with expertise in different disciplines (behavioural nutrition, economics of food choice, environmental implications,
etc.). The objective is to develop a framework and provide pragmatic recommendations on how to efficiently apply the nutrient density concept for nutrient profiling of foods and diets. Using a transversal approach, this activity aims to contribute to move forward the nutrient density concept, by developing a functional toolkit (Nutritional Navigation System) with the ultimate goal to improve public health by reducing the incidence of obesity-related NCDs.

This new task force aims first to assess existing solutions with the goal to develop a guidance document for an integrated, holistic approach to increase the effectiveness of food fraud detection, prevent and minimise health hazards. The purpose is to first develop a guidance document including a solution-kit approach.

Current Status

ILSI Europe proactively started this activity and gathered key international experts in January 2017. Because of its global relevance, all other ILSI Branches/Entities were invited at the ILSI Global Meeting (20-24 January 2017, La Jolla, USA), to join forces in a One ILSI project. To grasp the depth and complexity of the topic, a one-day workshop was organised on 9 June 2017 in ILSI Europe Offices, with transdisciplinary experts from Europe, the United States and South East Asia Region, and a first manuscript discussing the concept and outlining the framework for further activities is under development. Simultaneously, a New
Task Force Proposal is under scientific review.

Expected Impact

The outcome of this activity will provide a science-driven, pragmatic toolkit for food producers, consumers, regulators, and
academicians to optimise the composition of food items, make healthier choices, regulate nutrition labels, and address research gaps, respectively.

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Matthieu Flourakis at mflourakis@ilsieurope.be.