Chennai, Jan 3 (IANS) The government should consider taxing food products which are high in sugar, fat and salt so as to encourage people towards a healthier diet, World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said here on Friday.
Delivering the first Dr. C. Gopalan Memorial Lecture at the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), she said: “The co-existence of overweight and obesity along with stunting is the new nutrition reality that we need to address urgently.”
According to her, the new reality is that undernutrition and deficiencies, overweight and obesity are the problems that exist in low and high income countries.
Citing data on malnutrition, Swaminathan said about 2.3 billion adults and children are overweight globally, with about 150 million stunted children.
The burden of overweight and obesity is growing very rapidly and the rate of undernutrition is coming down which would have long-term negative consequences affecting the future generations, she added.
Expressing concern at the cheap and easy availability of ultra-processed foods than the healthy foods, Swaminathan said taxing unhealthy food or making nutrition information labelling mandatory could help.
Gopalan, who passed away last year, is known as “Father of Nutrition Research in India” and was former Director General, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) as well as Director of the National Institute of Nutrition.