In September of 2001, shortly after the attacks of 9/11, I spoke to an Earthsave group on Long Island, New York. At the time, I said that while what happened in NYC to the Twin Towers was a travesty and atrocity, there was a bigger travesty going on within American that is killing more people and more dangerous to the future of Americans than any terrorist attack ever would. I talked about the epidemic of obesity and the problem with misleading lables. Soon after, during an interview on Orlando TV and later at the North American Vegetarian Summer Conference, I called food labels and packaged processed foods, "The Weapons of Mass Destruction." Now, a global conference on obesity agrees yet this issue has barely received any attention in the current Presidential campaigns and debates.
An estimated 388 million people will die from chronic disease worldwide over the next 10 years, according to World Health Organisation figures quoted by the alliance. Like terrorism, some passing health threats get major government attention and media coverage, while heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer account for 60 percent of the world's deaths. And, it is these preventable chronic diseases that will break the bank of the health care systems and economies of many countries.
The fifth annual conference of the Oxford Health Alliance -- co-founded by Oxford University -- has brought together world experts from academia, government, business, law, economics and urban planning to promote change. The message was clear, overcoming deadly factors such as poor diet, smoking and a lack of exercise should take top priority in the fight against a growing epidemic of preventable chronic disease.
Prominent US professor of health law Lawrence Gostin said, "Global terrorism was a real threat but posed far less risk than obesity, diabetes and smoking-related illnesses." "While we've been focusing so much attention on that (terrorism), we've had this silent epidemic of obesity that's killing millions of people around the world, and we're devoting very little attention to it and a negligible amount of money." "Yet the human costs are frightening when we consider that obesity could shorten the average lifespan of an entire generation, resulting in the first reversal in life expectancy since data collecting began in 1900," he said
The conference is due to end Wednesday with a "Sydney Resolution" calling on governments and big business among others to take action to avert millions of premature deaths due to chronic disease. The Sydney resolution focuses on four key areas, including the need to make towns and cities healthier places in which to live by urban design which promotes walking and cycling and reduces carbon emissions from motor vehicles.
Insufficient physical exercise is a risk factor in many chronic diseases and is estimated to cause 1.9 million deaths worldwide each year, said Tony Capon, professor of health studies at Australia's Macquarie University. The resolution also calls for a reduction in sugar, fat and salt content in food, making fresh food affordable and available and increasing global efforts to stop people smoking.
Why wait for a governmet resolution? Make a personal resolution and eliminate the added sugars, added fats and added salt from your food. In addition, stop spending your money on packaged and processed food products which are the real "weapons of mass destruction."