World Nutrition: Food price crisis, food wars, ultra-processing, evidence to prevent obesity

Purpose and principles

Aspects of order and progress: reflections of new and old architecture in Rio;
Catherine Giessler and Harriet Kuhnlein at rest; and Christ the Redeemer

Throughout the 15-21 May meeting in Rio de Janeiro, participants reflected on the purpose of Rio2012, on its theme and ambition, and on the principles that guide all the work being done and to be done before, during and after the congress. Inspiration was provided by the city itself, three aspects of which are pictured above: the combination of centuries-old buildings and glittering high-rise office blocks downtown; the peace and quiet of the botanical gardens; and always the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) overlooking the city.

Much of the discussion at the Rio meeting in effect affirmed the principles and purposes set out in the 2005 Giessen Declaration. Thus: 'The purpose of nutrition science is to contribute to a world in which present and future generations fulfil their human potential, live in the best of health, and develop, sustain and enjoy an increasingly diverse human, living and physical environment. Nutrition science should be the basis for food and nutrition policies. These should be designed to identify, create, conserve and protect rational, sustainable and equitable communal, national and global food systems, in order to sustain the health, well-being and integrity of humankind and also that of the living and physical worlds'

The following document is a revision of the draft previously published on our site.


The theme of the Rio2012 congress is World Nutrition: Knowledge, Policy, Action. This affirms that different types of knowledge, including evidence derived from conventional scientific investigations and also from traditional and other sources, are needed to ensure rational policies and effective actions. Further, knowledge in itself is not enough to face the challenges that now confront public health nutrition. Policy strategies need to be implemented, evaluated, and thus continually strengthened. This cyclical process explains the spiral design that is the symbol of the congress.


Rio2012 will be one of the great events of this decade in Rio de Janeiro. These also include the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

The congress will discuss and debate the vast public health nutrition challenges and crises that now confront those in power and policy-makers in multinational bodies, civil society and public interest organisations, national governments, and industry, as well as relevant professional bodies, the academic community, field workers and community groups. It will go further, and will discuss, affirm and agree statements designed to be carried forward after the congress.

The congress will address the basic and underlying determinants of food systems and dietary patterns, and thus of disease, health and well-being, as well as their immediate causes. It will also take into account the social, economic, political and environmental as well as the biological determinants of nutrition and health.



Rio2012 is designed to be a new beginning for public health nutrition, to make it fit to face the challenges of this century. These include the linked finance, fuel and food crises, economic globalisation, population increases, climate change, and worsening inequity. The climax of the congress will be a series of agreed statements, and the Rio Declaration on the nature, purpose and scope of public health nutrition, designed to be made the basis of rational policies and effective programmes. These documents will guide work to be progressed after the congress until success is achieved.


World Nutrition



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Michael Pollan

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