Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases: Statement by the Surgeon General

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
Office of the Secretary
Washington, D.C. 20201

Surgeon General speaking at the May 18th Press Briefing
Surgeon General Regina Benjamin speaking at the May 18th Press Briefing

Statement by the Surgeon General of the United States
Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin, M.D.

11.19 Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases – Implemention of the Global Strategy
63rd World Health Assembly

Geneva, Switzerland
20 May 2010

Remarks as prepared for delivery

The United States thanks the WHO for its work on the global strategy for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. As the Surgeon General of the United States, I can say that we recognize that non-communicable diseases contribute significantly to mortality and morbidity worldwide, and represent an increasing proportion of the burden of disease in developing countries. Because non-communicable diseases are a significant public health issue that affect both developing and developed countries, we continue to support the WHO’s Action Plan for implementing the global strategy, such as the inclusion of all stakeholders in that work, as the reduction of non-communicable diseases is a shared responsibility.

We are pleased with the progress that WHO has made in implementing the action plan.

Turning to the Annex, the set of recommendations on marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children should play a significant role in helping Members States promote healthier patterns of eating as part of efforts to reduce the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. This is a priority for the Obama Administration, in particular for the First Lady, who has raised awareness of childhood obesity and the importance of healthy eating.

The United States is pleased to see that the stakeholder consultation process the Secretariat implemented resulted in considerable improvement in both the structure and content of the recommendations. For the most part, the recommendations share the policy objectives that are priorities for the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration.

The United States is addressing the pressing problem of obesity in many ways. For example, the National Institutes of Health has established an Obesity Research Task Force, which has developed a Strategic Plan for obesity research with the input of external experts and health advocacy organizations. Our investments in obesity research and strategic planning will benefit the WHO as it implements global strategies in the prevention and control of obesity and other noncommunicable diseases.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, together with the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Agriculture are developing standards for the marketing of foods to children in the United States.

These proposed standards were presented in December 2009, at “Sizing Up Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity,” a workshop hosted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and are to be submitted to our Congress in July.

We are pleased to see the recommendations mention a range of implementation mechanisms. There is a shared responsibility for tackling the growing obesity epidemic, which means Governments, industry and non-governmental actors and individuals all have roles to play. No stakeholder should be left out.

We are pleased to support the draft resolution, as proposed and amended by Norway. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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