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WHO Report: 4 Major Industries Responsible for 2.7m Deaths in Europe

by Rahil M
0 comment

According to the WHO report, all of Europe is not on track to achieve the sustainable development goals set forth by the UN.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.7 million deaths occur in Europe each year as a result of alcohol, tobacco, ultra-processed foods (UPFs), and fossil fuels. The WHO has urged nations to enact stricter regulations for these goods.

WHO said in a ground-breaking report that large corporations were causing illness and early death by using “misleading” marketing and interfering with government initiatives to avoid deadly including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

The 53 states of Europe account for more than 7,400 deaths every day, according to the latest analysis, which also attributes the deaths to alcohol, fossil fuels, tobacco, and UPFs. In total, the four industries are thought to be responsible for 2.7 million deaths in Europe each year, or about 25% (24.5%) of all fatalities.

The conclusions of the UN health agency represent an unprecedented assault on the enormous harm that large companies and their goods are causing to human health. The paper explains how “big industry” stalls and scuttles population health measures in order to increase profits through overt and covert means.

“A small number of transnational corporations … wield significant power over the political and legal contexts in which they operate and obstruct public interest regulations which could impact their profit margins,” the WHO stated.

“Industry tactics include exploitation of vulnerable people through targeted marketing strategies, misleading consumers, and presenting false claims about the benefits of their products or their environmental credentials,” stated Dr. Hans Henri P Kluge, regional director of WHO for Europe.

The strategies used by “major commercial industries” are undermining efforts to lower the three main causes of preventable illness: obesity, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

The numbers are from research conducted in 2023, which concluded that 34% of all deaths worldwide, or 19 million deaths a year, were related to alcohol, tobacco, processed foods and beverages, and fossil fuels.

According to the WHO report, all of Europe is not on track to achieve the sustainable development goals set forth by the UN, which include reducing smoking among adults over the age of 15 by 30% and slowing the growth in obesity. Together, the 53 nations drink more than any other region in the world.

In addition, the research pointed out that measures to make harmful items less tempting through plain packaging, alcohol pricing, and food labelling were not universally implemented, despite the health dangers. Only a minority of European countries have banned smoking in public areas.

The paper concludes that global efforts to restrict hazardous marketing have been, at best, lacklustre, with the notable exception of tobacco marketing rules that have been approved in many nations.

Legal restrictions on the promotion of unhealthy food and alcohol are in place in several nations throughout the WHO European region and the rest of the world, but they are frequently too limited in their application, concentrating on particular media or environments, demographic groups, or marketing strategies, and as a result, provide insufficient protection.

According to WHO estimates, tobacco use causes over a million deaths annually in Europe or 10% of all deaths. Fossil fuels account for about 600,000 [578,908] deaths annually, or 5% of all deaths; alcohol, on the other hand, accounts for over 400,000 deaths annually [426,857]. Furthermore, ingesting excessive amounts of processed meat, sugar-filled beverages, and fatty, salty foods kill over 350,000 people annually.

The deputy prime minister of Belgium, Frank Vandenbroucke, introduced the research by saying, “For too long we have considered risk factors as being mostly linked to individual choices. We need to reframe the problem as a systemic problem, where policy has to counter ‘hyper-consumption environments’, restrict marketing, and stop interference in policymaking.”

The research recommends that European governments prioritize public health in trade agreements and economic legislation, enact stronger regulations governing the marketing of health-harming products, and prohibit monopolistic behaviours and lobbying. To lower their risk of developing the disease, the World Cancer Research Fund advised people to restrict their alcohol intake and move towards a plant-based diet.

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