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Changing the global dietary environment

Since 2003, Professor Laurette Dub, James McGill Chair in Consumer and Lifestyle Psychology and Marketing, has convened an annual Health Challenge Think Tank based on the firm conviction that addressing global health issues in a comprehensive, effective way demands a massive mobilization across borders, sectors and areas of expertise. To that end, this years event will draw a Whos Who of key international scientists, stakeholders and decision-makers, including representatives from the Food and Health Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Culinary Institute of America, the American Beverage Association, the Clinton Foundation/American Heart Associations Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as from Unilever, PepsiCo, Kellogg, Sodexho, Discovery Kids, SAM Sustainable Asset Management and many other actors from the private sector and civil society.

As individuals, organizations, institutions and governments have been successfully mobilized to implement significant environmentally friendly actions, the 2007 Think Tank calls with the same urgency for health-friendly actions. If we are to have a fighting chance at stopping the progression of the childhood obesity pandemic, says Dub, we need nothing less than a reconsideration of the basic ways in which our society operates to place health on everyones agenda. This means looking at health within the broader economic and cultural context that critically shapes such an agenda.

Think Tank participants will examine the most strategic points along local and global food chains to shift the drivers of food supply and demand in a health-friendly direction. A special module in the program is devoted to the empowerment of schools and communities in the fight against obesity.

The McGill Health Challenge Think Tank is open to the media and will be webcast live. The Think Tank will be followed by two related events, a one-day Research Workshop to foster a novel, multi-sector approach to obesity prevention anchored in geo-spatial analyses and complex systems theories and methods (November 10) and a two-day WHO Forum on Trade and Healthy Food and Diets, aimed at informing national and international policy in matters at the convergence of trade, nutrition, health and diet (November 12-13). Presenters at these two events may be available for interviews and web-recording will be posted upon closure.


Contact: Michael Bourguignon
McGill University

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