Global cities back ‘Planetary Health Diet’

In a joint statement issued at the World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, the mayors from 14 cities from around the world have committed to achieving a ‘Planetary Health Diet’, as proposed by the EAT-Lancet report, for all their citizens by 2030 as part of the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration. Working with their citizens, the initiative will focus on sourcing food from organic agriculture, increasing consumption of healthy plant-based food shifting away from unsustainable, unhealthy diets and reducing food waste by 50%. As outlined in our Special Report following the publication of the EAT-Lancet report, such a move, whilst well intentioned, does nothing to support local, seasonal, sustainable food production, instead continuing reliance on centralised globalised food production systems and highly processed packaged foods. For more information on the ANH position on EAT-Lancet, read Rob Verkerk PhD’s latest article in the Autumn issue of the British Holistic Medical Association’s journal.

Big Pharma cuts research as antibiotics fail

The question is not if antibiotics fail, it’s when. Worse, there is no new breed of drugs to replace them. Compared to other potential blockbuster drugs there is relatively little money to be made from antibiotics, which is why Pharma is looking to significantly reduce or stop investment to find replacements or alternatives. Many people believe that they can’t heal from certain infections without taking a course of antibiotics and have come to expect to be given a prescription from their doctors. It’s this over- and misappropriate use of antibiotics that has led to the current situation where antimicrobial resistance is threatening our health again. Antibiotics are now failing, even the big guns held in reserve to combat the toughest of bacterial infections. In recognition of the warnings that by 2050, antimicrobial resistance is going to be responsible for the loss of around 10 million people a year, a new initiative has been launched. Aimed at overcoming antimicrobial resistance using natural medicine, environmentally responsible botanical company, Pukka Herbs, and The College of Medicine have come together to launch a new initiative.  

Singapore initiates advertising ban on sugary drinks

The Singapore Ministry of Health has announced a ban on advertising of the least healthy sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs). The move comes following an evidence review alongside feedback from a recent public consultation. The ban will cover any drinks containing added sugar as well as juices containing naturally-occurring sugars. The changes come as a new study calls for public health policies to be targeted at reducing consumption of SSBs in young children. Mandatory colour-coded front-of-pack nutrition labels will also be introduced for those products deemed to be less healthy. The MOH said the measures are designed to help consumers make better choices and drive product reformulation. Whether such reformulation will be better for health is a moot point given the use of artificial non-nutritive sweeteners can further compound health problems already afflicting the heaviest ‘users’ of such products.

Childhood obesity crisis

Being overweight or obese in childhood can have a hugely detrimental effect on health in later life. In her last report as UK Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies documents the rise of childhood obesity in the UK, rates of which have more than doubled since 1990. Shockingly nearly 30% of girls and 26% of boys are now classed as overweight or obese. The report emphasises the benefits of good health not only for the individual, but the wider community and economy, making recommendations ‘designed to create a healthy environment for all children’ including extending the sugar tax, removing VAT from healthier foods and reducing portion sizes. Dame Davies said, “I want to see our children’s health, not companies’ profits, put at the forefront of government policy. It is every child’s right to live in a world that promotes, not harms, their health. Sadly, such problems are not limited to the UK. In the US, new figures show 4.8M children aged 10--17 in the US are obese, with associated healthcare costs alone estimated to be $14b.

Pushback from Big Ag on EU GM bans begin

Citizen power in the EU has been successful in persuading authorities to implement stringent controls to protect human and environmental health from the harms posed by GM crops and associated chemical use. The pushback against such regulatory stances has begun as Big Ag starts to spin the supposed benefits of GM technology. University students are also being targeted to assist the call for regulations to be relaxed and changed to allow free rein for new techniques regardless of the harms they may pose not just to human health, but also the environment.

Nature prescriptions for mental health

Not only does being in nature help people feel significantly better, both physically and mentally, nature prescriptions could save the NHS money. That’s the finding of a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis undertaken by researchers at Leeds Beckett University into the social value of The Wildlife Trust’s outdoor volunteering programmes. So, take a little time to kick off your slippers and head for your nearest green space for some outdoor self-care.

Bee deaths in Brazil

The death of 500 million bees in Brazil is being linked to the relaxation of regulations governing the introduction and use of highly toxic pesticides in Brazil following the change of government in January 2019. Unlike colony collapse disorder where bees abandon their hives and disappear, beekeepers are reporting bees dying on the spot. As bees round the world continue to suffer the onslaught of toxic chemicals Bayer are fighting to overturn a ban on neonic pesticides in France to protect their profits.