Ultraprocessed food. On February 6, the World Bank (WB) published a report urging governments to promote measures to fight obesity, as part of moves to achieve greater economic growth. According to the document, in the next 15 years, the costs of this disease will exceed USD 7 billion in developing countries. The WB is calling upon governments to adopt preventive measures, such as labelling processed foods and has proposed measures to improve consumer education, as well as to reduce salt concentration in products and limit the consumption of sugary drinks. These would be promoted by the organization throughout 2020 in the countries of the region.
The report pinpoints the consumption of sugary and ultraprocessed foods as the main factors for the “obesity epidemic”, accompanied by consumption patterns prioritizing unhealthy food intake. In addition, it argues that there has been a global shift in food consumption patterns as people are eating more energy-dense foods (high in sugar and fat) while reducing levels of physical activity..
In this context, the World Bank has suggested that in the coming years obesity will have significant impacts on national economies due to reduced productivity and life expectancy. In turn, it explains that these diseases will trigger a spike in health care costs which could significantly limit growth and economic development in the region.
The report published by the WB recommends that governments invest in preventive measures to stem the upwards trend in obesity and “preempt” the costs associated with the associated fall in productivity. These measures include the importance of implementing fiscal policies such as taxing unhealthy foods and requiring processed foods to be correctly labelled. The WB will seek to promote these measures in the region during 2020.