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The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) has “welcomed the World Health Organization's findings regarding preventable diseases and premature deaths. However, the association said recommendations for increased taxes on certain foods and product reformulations are not effective ways to improve global health.

The statement reads:

    The WHO issued its World Health Report 2002: Preventing Risks, Promoting Health Life, identifying the 10 leading risks to global health including underweight and malnutrition, high blood pressure, unsafe water, iron deficiency and obesity. Additionally, the report provides governments and, to a limited extent, the private sector with recommendations for reducing these risks. The report concludes that, if its recommendations are implemented, healthy life spans could be increased by 5-10 years.

    "Rather than overemphasizing the impact certain foods may have on health as the report does, we believe obesity and its related diseases can be reduced through comprehensive programs including public education about the importance of nutrition and physical activity," said GMA Director of Scientific and Nutrition Policy Alison Kretser, MS, RD.

    "Additionally, strategies to reduce malnourishment should include recommendations for programs to provide more vitamin fortified foods to developing countries," added Kretser. "As the report indicates, iron-deficiency is a leading cause of death for children and mothers in many countries. That the WHO makes the reduction of salt in processed foods - instead of solutions for reducing iron-deficiency and anemia - a top priority is lamentable."

    GMA supports and actively pursues policies and programs that support improved nutrition and physical activity at the national level. Additionally, GMA and its member companies will work with the WHO and other health officials to develop effective strategies to address malnutrition and obesity globally.
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