U.S. Explanation of Position on Ending Childhood Obesity: implementation plan

70th World Health Assembly
Agenda Item 15.5

Geneva, May 2017

Report of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity: implementation plan

United States of America Explanation of Position:

The United States strongly supports efforts to end childhood obesity – a critical public health issue in our country, and many others. In fact, tackling childhood obesity in the United States is one of our top three clinical health priorities.

The United States believes that addressing childhood obesity requires identifying and pursuing comprehensive, cost-effective, evidence-based strategies. These strategies can include voluntary measures, best practices, or regulatory measures, appropriate to each national and local context, and consistent with Member States’ domestic and international obligations, including trade obligations. Such strategies should also incorporate the use of public-private partnerships and other multi-sectoral collaborations.

The United States wishes to make clear that the Report of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity: implementation plan does not create legal rights or obligations under international law, and does not prejudice the sovereign rights of nations to determine their own policies, including on taxation.  In a federal system such as ours, decisions regarding many of the recommendations in the Implementation Plan rest with states and municipalities.

We believe that the prescriptive language used in this plan is inappropriate in light of the voluntary nature of the proposed interventions.  In addition, we have concerns with some of the rights-related language in the plan. We also believe that the evidence underlying certain interventions is inadequate at this time to recommend them, and that recommendations for addressing childhood obesity should reflect the fact that all foods, including beverages, can be part of an overall diversified, balanced, and healthful diet. Further, we expect that countries’ implementation of any of the recommendations will be consistent with their international trade obligations.

The United States thanks the WHO Secretariat and Member States for the opportunity to discuss this important issue and we look forward to continuing to work together to make progress in this area.