According to a recent report jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 360 million adults in Latin America are overweight, with over 100 million categorised as obese. More troubling is that obesity is on the rise, particularly in women and children. Obesity, along with many other non-communicable diseases, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, are persistent public health challenges that are mounted on the back of a wide range of socioeconomic factors.

PAHO Foundation’s President and CEO, Dr Jennie Ward-Robinson, on why the public health NGO has teamed up with the CGF to drive improved health outcomes across Latin America.

Adequate nutrition and physical activity are essential components of a healthy lifestyle, and PAHO Foundation works with partners to develop solutions towards addressing the rapid escalation of chronic diseases.

 As a part of our commitment to enabling better health and a brighter future for people across the Americas, we work, in large part, through locally driven projects that highlight the importance of healthy practices as well as the availability of a healthy food supply. We have had much success in Peru, working with the Ministry of Health to upgrade public health guidelines around women’s cancers and can adapt these efforts throughout the region.

PAHO Foundation operates within a framework that reflects the public-private partnership model and espouses the need to collaborate with tactical partners across sectors in addressing health and wellness. The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF)’s Health & Wellness Pillar similarly promotes the needs for strategic partnerships and a greater role for private industry to play in improving the health and wellness of consumers in the communities that the CGF’s members serve. This shared interest led to a strategic partnership with the CGF to improve health and wellness outcomes in Latin America, inked earlier this year.

A Healthy Relationship

I understand that the CGF had been investigating ways that it can bring its regional members together to address the common challenge of public health for some time, with the end-game being collaborative initiatives that inform and empower consumers to make more informed diet and lifestyle decisions. Our partnership has the potential to deliver this.

I enjoyed attending the CGF’s Sustainable Retail Summit in Montreal and hearing about other initiatives that the CGF’s members and partners are planning to roll out in Latin America and around the world. The CGF’s members can play a crucial role in helping tackle Latin America’s public health challenges, and it is great to see them stepping up to the (healthily laden) plate.

Specifically, I am very proud to see the commitment from industry leaders to find new, innovative ways to address disease management at the consumer level. I also congratulate Peter Freedman, the CGF’s Managing Director, for reaching across the aisle to the NGO and regulatory communities. Together, we can identify sustainable approaches toward best serving consumers and safeguarding their health.

Following the Sustainable Retail Summit, I anticipate many fruitful discussions and actions in the future and am excited to leverage the partnership between PAHO Foundation and the CGF to achieve sustainable, healthy outcomes for individuals, families, and communities throughout the region.

This post was written and contributed by:
Dr Jennie Ward-Robinson
President and CEO