Changing the narrative around obesity, together

The ISA proudly supports the first unified World Obesity Day

Brussels, 4th March 2020: On the occasion of World Obesity Day today, the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) proudly joins obesity organisations around the world in the call for a global response to the critical obesity challenge, and promotes informed policies, a healthier food environment, and the right care and education around obesity.

Despite a drive in the last decade to deal with its increased rate, obesity remains one of the most challenging public health concerns of the 21st century. Accordingly, governments have been urged to take action to meet their commitment to halt the rise in obesity by 20251:

  • More than half the population is now overweight in 34 out of 36 OECD countries and almost one in four people have obesity2;
  • For the WHO Europe region specifically, the prevalence of obesity in many countries has tripled since the 1980s3. It is predicted that by 2030, over 50% of that population will have obesity4;
  • Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers5.

Today marks the first unified World Obesity Day. As highlighted in this year’s campaign, obesity is complex: it can be triggered by many factors, including genetic, psychological, sociocultural, economic and environmental, such as stress, unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Although it is now a global crisis that affects 650 million people worldwide, obesity remains nevertheless poorly understood and the burden of stigma persists. So, together, let’s change the narrative around obesity.

World Obesity Day is the opportunity for all sectors of the society, both public and private, from around the world, to work together to increase knowledge and understanding around obesity, its causes and how to address it, to collectively tackle this growing challenge.

Every single, small lifestyle modification counts!

While no change on its own can solve the obesity crisis, sustainable changes in dietary habits and physical activity routine can already make a difference. For example, adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, switching to whole wheat bread and cereals, and doing regular exercise can all contribute to a healthier diet and lifestyle. Also, replacing sugar with low/no calorie sweeteners in foods and drinks can help reduce calorie intake while enabling you to keep enjoying the pleasure of sweet taste. The right support to people with obesity, including from healthcare professionals, friends and family, is also key: by doing this together, we can achieve more, better.

With this in mind, the ISA is proud to release its new animated video, developed in support of World Obesity Day 2020 and endorsed by the French association for people with obesity6 (CNAO), the Portuguese association of patients and ex-patients with obesity (Adexo), the Brazilian Society for Food and Nutrition7 (SBAN), the Arabic Association for the Study of Diabetes and Metabolism (AASD), and the Brazilian diabetes association8 (ANAD). This video aims to enhance understanding of the complexity of obesity as well as solutions to help tackle this important public health challenge. Watch the video below or through this link, and engage in the conversation about World Obesity Day 2020 by using #ISA4WOD and #Worldobesityday.

  2. OECD (2019), The Heavy Burden of Obesity: The Economics of Prevention, OECD Health Policy Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,
  3. World Health Organisation. The challenges of obesity in the WHO region and the strategies for response, 2007
  4. L. Webber, D. Divajeva, T. Marsh et al, ‘The future burden of obesity-related diseases in the 53 WHO European-Region countries and the impact of effective interventions: a modelling study’, BMJ Open (2014) 4(7):
  5. Page 17
  6. Collectif National des Associations d’Obèses
  7. Sociedade Brasileira de Alimentação e Nutrição
  8. Associação Nacional de Atenção ao Diabetes