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Of course, the Health & Wellness Resolutions are by no means the first time the industry has come together to tackle the rise in lifestyle-related illnesses that have resulted from the general rise in per capita incomes, living standards and longevity that the world has experienced over the last two decades.

Tackling the Rise in Lifestyle-Related Illnesses

The industries that develop, source, manufacture, market, distribute and sell consumer goods have risen to earlier public health challenges, including hunger and malnutrition. Similarly, the consumer goods industry is now rising to the new challenges associated with the rise in obesity and non-communicable diseases worldwide. The consumer goods industry, in collaboration with local governments, health advocates, NGOs and other stakeholders, has been addressing this multitude of issues for more than a decade and are committed to continuing these efforts.

In particular, the food and beverage manufacturing industry responded in 2003 to the WHO efforts to develop a Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health by mobilising food and beverage companies under the auspices of Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and FoodDrinkEurope (formerly CIAA) to engage in constructive dialogue with WHO and its member states. The WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2004 envisioned key contributions from the private sector and from the food and beverage industry specifically. In the decade since its adoption, industry action has been guided by the WHO’s Global Strategy in five specific areas:

  • Promotion of Healthy Lifestyle;
  • Products and Choices;
  • Consumer Information;
  • Advertising and Marketing; and
  • Workplace Wellness.

The industry has taken action in these areas both as individual companies and through key industry alliances. My employer, The Consumer Goods Forum, is one such alliance.

Engaging Our Industry Through Collaborative Actions

The adoption of the Health & Wellness Resolutions by the Board of The Consumer Goods Forum has laid the foundation for collecting information about industry-wide efforts in this area, for communicating the undertakings of our industry and for motivating and enabling future actions and engagement across the industry and around the world.

The Consumer Goods Forum’s vision of “better lives through better business” is directly aligned with the specific actions outlined in these resolutions. These actions are intended to provide a roadmap that will guide the industry in making relevant contributions to the cause of reducing the incidence of obesity and NCDs worldwide.

And, now that we have begun to track the implementation of these resolutions across the entire industry – both food and non-food – the industry is positioning itself to take positive steps forward and to learn about how companies are engaging on health and wellness initiatives so that best practices can be shared among the broader membership of The Consumer Goods Forum. This also allows for a robust monitoring and reporting framework to be developed and will help establish ourselves as the key partner of choice.

No one pretends it will be easy. However, The Consumer Goods Forum is well-positioned to help advance health and wellness among consumers globally and it’s important that our members, and the industry as a whole, support that vision, drive positive change and help consumers live better lives.

Sharon Bligh,
Senior Manager, Health & Wellness
The Consumer Goods Forum