Sun. Feb 23rd, 2020

We have the right to a healthy diet | Science

We have the right to a healthy diet | Science


Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez explained that Macondo, the village where he develops the plot of One hundred years of lonelinessIt was so old that "many things lacked a name and to mention them you had to point them out with your finger". But how do you point out something that is not three-dimensional, something intangible and as abstract as nostalgia, skepticism … or the right to nutrition? It can not. There are those who postulate, in fact, that in this dilemma lies the beginning of language. And it is that a concept that has no name is as if it did not exist, although in reality it has implications on the physical plane. Haughtiness, courage, jealousy or calmness existed before someone named them and they have greatly influenced the history of humanity.

Before baptizing it, the right to nutrition did not seem to exist, but it influenced our lives as much as the law of gravity

With the right of nutrition Something similar happens. Before the lawyer Francisco José Ojuelos baptized him, this right did not seem to exist, but it influenced our lives as much as the law of gravity. By naming it, Ojuelos implicitly obliges the legislator and political leaders to keep it in mind and to pursue the ultimate goal of this right: to protect the health of the population.

What is new about the right to nutrition? That is distinguished from a right very developed (and very necessary), which is the right food. Thus, while the food law guarantees us access to a safe diet (defends us, for example, food fraud or poor hygiene practices), the right to nutrition seeks to safeguard the population from negative effects on their health in the medium or long term of the widespread consumption of safe foods (without pathogens) but unhealthy. That is to say, it seeks to guarantee that the population has an umbrella that protects it from the deluge of forces that conspire so that we follow an unhealthy eating pattern.

They will understand better the previous paragraph with an example. In 2014 I compared, based on two investigations (Rekhy, 2014 Y Federal Trade Commission, 2008), the investment in the "5 a day" campaign by the United States and the investment of the food industry of this country in the marketing of fast food for children and adolescents. For those who do not know, "5 a day" is the name given to the campaign, established in several countries (including Spain), which promotes the consumption of a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Well, while the investment in "5 a day" amounted to a range of between three and five million dollars a year, the industry of the fast food directed to children, he invested five million a day in advertising his products to children and adolescents. Five million a year against five million a day. It is not surprising that 88% of the American adult population present excess weight (data of 2017).

Since no government can invest 5 million dollars every day to counteract the negative effect of the marketing of unhealthy products (do they think about the cost of health and the personal and social tragedy that supposes for a State to have 88% of its population with excess weight?), it is necessary to establish a right to stop this tsunami. In Europe we still do not have the health drama that exists in the United States, but that does not mean that we can relax: our figures of excess weight do not stop increasing, just as they have just revealed Dr. Elisa Pineda and her collaborators in Obesity Facts.


Cover of the book 'The right of nutrition'.enlarge photo
Cover of the book 'The right of nutrition'.

Another example is provided by sugary drinks. The decrease in the consumption of the so-called "soft drinks" (safe products, but unhealthy) is a world priority. Therefore, as reported by Francisco José Ojuelos in his book, the Generalitat de Catalunya launched on May 1, 2017 a tax on sugary drinks. One year later, in April 2018, a research carried out by the Pompeu Fabra University He noted, to the delight of all the nutritionists, that the tax translated into a 22% reduction in the consumption of these beverages compared to the situation before the tax. This meant consuming 107 fewer calories per person per week among their consumers. And it also meant proof that, as I indicated a few lines ago, the right to nutrition existed before it had a name.

Having a right to nutrition means many things, which I can not detail in this text, but which are detailed in the book "The right to nutrition", which I have had the honor of preface. Although I can advance that the existence of the right to nutrition means that we have the right to be well informed. At least, as much as the food manufacturers. Today there is a huge imbalance between the knowledge that the food industry (which usually has in its ranks with nutrition experts) and the general population. A population clearly disoriented by so many contradictory news, so many celebrities announcing products loaded with sugar, so many scientific societies sold to manufacturers of unhealthy products, so much disinformation in the food labels, so much predatory advertising, so much affinity between the food industry and governments or, in summary, before so much nutritional chaos.

The existence of the right to nutrition also means taking measures against the advertising of unhealthy foods during children's hours, including health warnings in the alcoholic drinks, regulate nutritional labeling, guarantee free access to nutritionists, etc.

The importance (and the urgency) of the consummation of this right can be verified by reviewing the last report of the European Heart Network, which justifies that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Europe and that the main cause of these diseases are modifiable dietary factors.

In his latest novel, Trilogy of war, the physicist and writer Agustín Fernández Mallo, states that "… the attitude of the poet and the scientist is the same: to redefine what until that moment we thought was stable and closed". It is precisely this attitude that has proved to have the lawyer Francisco José Ojuelos in his book The right of nutrition (Amarante) since no one, to date, had defined with so much precision that we needed something more than a safe diet (stabilized thanks to the right to food): we have the right to a healthy diet.

Julio Basulto (@JulioBasulto_DN) is a Dietitian-Nutritionist who tries to convince the world that eating badly is not compensated with a carrot. He also lectures, works as a teacher in several academic institutions, collaborates with different media and is the author of numerous scientific and informative publications (www.juliobasulto.com).

NUTRIATE WITH SCIENCE It is a section on food based on scientific evidence and knowledge contrasted by specialists. Eating is much more than a pleasure and a necessity: diet and eating habits are now the public health factor that can most help us to prevent many diseases, from many types of cancer to diabetes. A team of dieticians-nutritionists will help us to better understand the importance of food and to tear down, thanks to science, the myths that lead us to eat badly.

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