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WHO/FAO Release Expert Report on Diet and Chronic Disease

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Less saturated fats, sugar and salt, more fruit and vegetables and physical exercise, needed to counter cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

A diet low in energy-dense foods that are high in saturated fats and sugars and abundant in fruit and vegetables, together with an active lifestyle are among the key measures to combat chronic disease recommended in an independent expert report prepared for two United Nations agencies.

The report, commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from a team of global experts, aims to identify new recommendations for governments on diet and exercise to tackle the ever- increasing number of people who die each year from chronic diseases. The burden of chronic diseases—which include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and obesity—is rapidly increasing worldwide. In 2001, chronic diseases contributed approximately 59 percent of the 56.5 million total reported deaths in the world and 46 percent of the global burden of disease.

“This expert report is highly significant because it contains the best currently available scientific evidence on the relationship of diet, nutrition and physical activity to chronic diseases, based on the collective judgement of a group of experts with a global perspective,” said Ricardo Uauy, head of the University of Chile’s Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology and Professor of Public Health Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who chaired the expert group.

The report includes advice on ways of changing daily nutritional intake and increasing energy expenditure by:

  • Reducing energy-rich foods high in saturated fat and sugar;
  • Cutting the amount of salt in the diet;
  • Increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet and
  • Undertaking moderate-intensity physical activity for at least an hour a day.

The report, based on the analysis of the best available current evidence and the collective judgement of 30 experts, emphasizes that energy consumed each day should match energy expenditure.

The expert report will be formally published in April as a WHO/FAO technical report together with an evaluation by the organizations and outlines of actions to implement the recommendations. The report will be a critical science-based contribution to the development of the global strategy, aimed at reducing the growing burden of disease related to cardiovascular diseases, several forms of cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and dental disease.

The report will form the basis for national and regional bodies to develop specific guidelines on diet and exercise for their local communities. To read more on this report, visit, World Health Organization.

Source: World Health Organization (WHO)