Tackling Obesity in ASEAN: Prevalence, impact, and guidance on interventions.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) launched “Tackling Obesity in ASEAN: Prevalence, impact, and guidance on interventions.” This report, commissioned by the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN), analyses obesity in ASEAN through consumer and healthcare practitioner surveys, an intervention effectiveness analysis and an assessment of the economic impact of obesity.

The report highlights these key findings:

  • Obesity prevalence rates have more than tripled in low and middle-income countries through 1980-2013
  • ASEAN countries facing the highest costs of obesity in 2016 are: Indonesia (US$2-4bn) and Malaysia (US$1-2bn)
  • Obese workers in ASEAN are less productive than their healthy counterparts. They effectively contribute to the economy for between four and nine years less than the working-age population average
  • Individually, interventions that target either food intake or exercise show the greatest promise in the fight against obesity. The effectiveness of interventions that target both is even higher

Please refer to the full report here

Making our Case for a Little Sweetness

With the pressing need to reduce unhealthy levels of sugar consumption among consumers, the food & beverage (F&B) industry has invested much of its efforts and resources in developing sugar alternatives – be it through innovative technologies, or by making adjustments to existing recipes to match or improve the taste profiles of products gradually, so as to ensure that customers are not caught by surprise.

This has fuelled a growth in demand for ingredients that impart sweetness with significantly less or no calories, resulting in the innovation of low/non-calorie sweeteners (LNCS). LNCS enable food manufacturers to provide a wide variety of food products with varying caloric values and taste profiles.

While LNCS could serve as good alternatives to sugar, their collective reputation has constantly been challenged. In light of how they are the subject of intense public debate and scrutiny, Food Industry Asia (FIA) has set out to build a platform for wide-ranging evidence-based narratives around sweeteners and sugars.

An FIA white paper, titled “The Case for a Little Sweetness: The Role of Low/Non-Calorie Sweeteners on Health”, serves to do just that, by debunking the health- and safety-related myths sweeteners have been commonly linked with. It is the first in a series of communication tools FIA is developing with subject matter experts, to explore how sweeteners impact diet and health.

As part of its efforts to address the misinformation that has driven the negative reputation of LNCS, FIA organised two information-sharing sessions in Indonesia and Sri Lanka last month, to address common concerns relating to the safety and health impacts of sweeteners. 

You may download the full report from this link

2017 Global Nutrition Report

A better nourished world is a better world. Yet the 2017 Global Nutrition Report shows that, despite the significant steps the world has taken towards improving nutrition and associated health burdens over recent decades, nutrition is still a large-scale and universal problem. Too many people are being left behind from the benefits of improved nutrition. Yet when we look at the wider context, the opportunity for change has never been greater. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by 193 countries in 2015, offer a tremendous window of opportunity to reverse or stop these trends.

The 2017 Global Nutrition Report shows there are five core areas of development that run through the SDGs which nutrition can contribute to, and in turn, benefit from:

  • sustainable food production
  • infrastructure
  • health systems
  • equity and inclusion
  • peace and stability.

Through these areas, the report finds that improving nutrition can have a powerful multiplier effect across the SDGs. Indeed, it indicates that it will be a challenge to achieve any SDG without addressing nutrition. The report shows that there is an exciting opportunity to achieving global nutrition targets while catalysing other development goals through ‘double duty’ actions, which tackle more than one form of malnutrition at once. Likewise, potential ‘triple duty actions’, which tackle malnutrition and other development challenges, could yield multiple benefits across the SDGs.

If readers take away one message from this report, it should be that ending malnutrition in all its forms will catalyse improved outcomes across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The challenge is huge, but it is dwarfed by the opportunity.

You may download the full report from this link