Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets: Joint meeting of the WHO and FAO regional offices for Europe

4–5 December 2017, Budapest, Hungary

WHO Europe will collaborate with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in organizing a meeting on sustainable food systems for healthy diets in Budapest, Hungary, on 4–5 December 2017.

The aim of the meeting is to examine the current status and assess progress in addressing all forms of malnutrition in the WHO European Region. Particular attention will be paid to how food policies can promote healthy and sustainable diets and prevent obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases. Success stories and visionary scenarios will be presented and discussed, with speakers from Member States, academia and international organizations.

The symposium will focus on the multiple challenges countries face in promoting healthy diets and will be structured around 4 thematic areas identified as relevant to achieving healthy, diversified and balanced diets:

  • nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems
  • creating healthy food environments
  • improving nutrition of vulnerable groups
  • governance, leadership and accountability for nutrition.

The meeting supports the continuing implementation of the WHO European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020, and also aligns with the global commitments of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) Framework for Action, and the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition.

New data on food and nutrition policies in Europe

WHO Europe will use the occasion of the meeting to launch a status report on the implementation of the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020. Better food and nutrition in Europe: a progress report monitoring policy implementation in the WHO European Region, uses the latest available data provided by countries as part of the WHO Global Nutrition Policy Survey. The report provides updated information on progress towards implementing a range of policies, including front of pack nutrition labelling, school food standards, restrictions on marketing of food to children, and support for breastfeeding and complementary feeding. At the same time, the data contained in the report will be launched on the WHO European Health Information Gateway.

Exploring ways to reduce sugar in manufactured foods

A draft policy brief on sugar reduction will also be launched for consultation at the Symposium. The report, Incentives and disincentives for sugar reduction: an exploratory supply chain analysis, has been developed in collaboration with City, University of London, and explores the supply chain for sugar to understand why sugar is used in manufactured foods in such large quantities. In doing so, it identifies the current incentives and disincentives for sugar reduction and provides insights for policy action at the country level to reduce sugar in manufactured foods. The context of the report is the recommended sugar intake limits set in the WHO guideline on free sugar intake in adults and children.