With negotiations grinding to a halt for the World Trade Organization, at least one researcher is taking an interesting tack. He says it's time to rethink trade policies that could be making the world's population fatter and more unhealthy.
Philip James, British chairman of the International Obesity Task Force, talked to wire services this weekend during the 10th International Obesity Congress in Sydney and says that trade policies distort the market and make fats and sugars cheaper than fruits and vegetables. That change in dietary economics is adding up to increased weight, higher incidence of diabetes and hearth disease, James says.
James points to China, where the rate of obesity has climbed from zero in the 1980s to 10% in 2006. He blames an influx of cheap meat products, soy and palm-based oils, and adds that the world is watching the Chinese health profile be "transformed in front of our eyes," he says.
James, who has advised British Prime Minister Tony Blair on nutrition policy, says the collapse of trade talks may be an opportunity to rethink ag policy to create opportunities to improve global health.
The International Congress on Obesity is hearing papers from more than 400 researchers from 50 countries.