University of São Paulo: Experts want to include ultra-processed foods in discussions at the UN Food Systems Summit

More than 80 scientists, government and civil society representatives, produced a document in which they synthesize scientific evidence on the harmful effects of ultra-processed foods on human and planetary health. The proposal, which will be forwarded to the Food Systems Summit of the United Nations (UN), calls for the topic to be treated with due relevance and to be included in the discussions at the event, which will take place in September 2021, when it will be discussed critical points of food systems, with a focus on achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The document, entitled Dialogue on ultra-processed products: solutions for healthy and sustainable food systems, it will be launched on the 24th (Thursday), at 5 pm, broadcast on the YouTube channel of the Faculty of Public Health (FSP) at USP.


School lunch reduces consumption of ultra-processed foods among teenagers
The meeting that generated the document was organized by the Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health (Nupens) and by the Josué de Castro Chair on Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems, both from FSP. It was attended by scientists such as Carlos Monteiro (coordinator of Nupens), Tereza Campello (former minister of Social Development and Fight against Hunger and current professor of the Chair) and José Graziano da Silva (former general director of FAO, current director of the Zero Hunger Institute).

Impacts on human health and agriculture

Divided into six topics, the document explores scientific evidence on the impacts of ultra-processed products on human health and the mechanisms by which these products increase the risk of developing diseases. The text also shows how the production and consumption of these foods affect the Planet. It brings in detail three global solutions needed to tackle the problem: the development of food guides that address the harm of ultra-processed products, the production of clear food labeling for the consumer and the regulation of food environments (where the purchase and sale of food takes place. food products).

The relationship between ultra-processed foods and a greater risk of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases is increasingly clear”, says Carlos Monteiro. According to the researcher, it is essential that the topic is debated at the UN Food Systems Summit. “The production of ultra-processed foods requires a reduced number of crops (soybeans, corn, wheat and sugarcane), contributing to the reduction of agrobiodiversity, in addition to involving large consumption of water, fossil fuels, fertilizers and pesticides”, he says .

According to Tereza Campello, the impacts of ultra-processed foods on the environment and climate have been neglected in international debates. “The text produced collectively, based on science, demonstrates the urgency of action for the regulation of the food industry, and will be a strategic tool to guide the ultra-processed agenda both at the UN Food Systems Summit and at the 26th Conference of Nations United Nations on Climate Change (COP 26) and at the Conference on Biodiversity. We cannot continue to feed the illusion that the industry will regulate itself”, he explains.

For the launch, Cátedra Josué de Castro and Nupens organized the webinar Dialogue on ultra- processed products : solutions for healthy and sustainable food systems . The event will take place on the 24th (Thursday), at 5 pm. The opening will be performed by Tereza Campello and mediation will be in charge of journalist Maria Carolina Trevisan, from UOL. At the table, Carlos Monteiro and Ana Paula Bortoletto (Chair Josué de Castro and Nupens) will comment on the main messages of the document. The transmission will be carried out through the YouTube channel of the Faculty of Public Health.

Environment É o Meio discusses differences between processed and in natura foods
The UN Food Systems Summit was announced at the World Economic Forum, in 2019, by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, in recognition of the urgency of making current food systems healthy and sustainable.
The meeting’s principles are the participants’ commitment to honoring the vision and objectives of the meeting, recognizing the complexity of the food systems agenda, adopting a posture of inclusion of all actors involved and building mutual trust so that there is consensus and for decisions implemented at different levels.

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