World Obesity Federation statement on WHO report Social Determinants of Health

06 February 2023

The 152nd session of the WHO Executive Board, held on 30 January – 7 February 2023, discussed the the WHO Director General report on Social Determinants of Health.

On this occasion, the World Obesity Federation delivered the following constituency statement:

World Obesity Federation, the Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control, World Cancer Research Fund International, Movendi International and International Diabetes Federation, supported by NCD Alliance, welcome the updated WHO World Report on Social Determinants of Health Equity and the implementation-oriented operational framework for monitoring progress.

We recognise many determinants of health lie outside the health sector and must be tackled through a multisectoral approach: nowhere is this truer than for public health priorities such as obesity and alcohol harm. We commend WHO’s recognition of the need for a systems-based approach to address NCDs including obesity, mental health conditions and risk factors, and to address the wider determinants of health across sectors, including environmental and actions of health-harming industries.

We appreciate WHO country support on commercial determinants: a key obstacle to health equity. We welcome the Report’s proposed actions to address these key barriers: economic and gender inequality; racism—and we urge that stigma, false narratives and preconceptions also be addressed as part of the wider determinants to access quality health services, particularly for people living with obesity, alcohol use disorder or other mental health conditions.

Actions to address key SDoH have been insufficient worldwide, especially actions of unhealthy commodity industries, including tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food and beverage industries. This inaction is driving the global burden of NCD mortality and morbidity (from cancers, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, chronic respiratory disease, mental health and neurological conditions) and NCD morbidity (e.g. billions living with oral health conditions).

We call on Member States to:

  • accelerate UHC implementation guaranteeing quality prevention, care, and treatment services that are equitable and don’t perpetuate stigma
  • focus more strongly on NCD Best Buys, especially pro-health taxes, which provide substantial return on investment and multiple benefits for shaping SDH

We call on WHO to:

  • protect the development of the World Report from undue influence
  • clarify how the social determinants operational framework and well-being framework will complement, rather than duplicate each other

WHO and Member States should address CDH, including protecting policy-making from undue influence, as part of addressing SDH.

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