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November 15, 2017

Vital Strategies commends Cape Town on new anti-obesity initiative

(New York, USA) – Vital Strategies congratulates the City of Cape Town on the launch of a new initiative to address the risk factors for diabetes – a leading cause of death in the city – with a special focus on reducing consumption of sugary drinks, a proven driver of the epidemic. The initiative is being announced in conjunction with the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a global network of cities committed to reducing NCDs and injuries, led by Michael R. Bloomberg, World Health Organization Global Ambassador for NCDs and former New York City Mayor. Vital Strategies, an implementing partner, will provide technical support for the development and implementation of the initiative’s public awareness campaign.

Vital Strategies President and Chief Executive Officer, José Luis Castro, said: “In 2015, one in 20 deaths in South Africa were related to diabetes. We congratulate Executive Mayor De Lille and Cape Town’s government for implementing a range of anti-obesity initiatives aimed at reducing obesity-related disease. Strong policies – like South Africa’s proposed tax on sugary drinks – can help to reduce this burden, but city governments have a significant opportunity to improve health, including diabetes, and we encourage other cities to follow this example.”

The new initiative includes a plan to reduce the accessibility of sugary drinks within all City of Cape Town-controlled buildings, along with a media campaign to make sure Cape Town residents are knowledgeable and take action to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks and junk food, as well as to increase physical activity.

Castro concluded: “Cape Town’s government is meeting public demand for action on this issue. Research that Vital Strategies helped to support in South Africa shows that 83 percent of adults want government to address the country’s obesity problem. By demonstrating the harms of sugary drinks and by reducing the availability of these products, Cape Town is sending a strong message that will make the city healthier.”

Vital Strategies provides technical assistance to cities and countries around the world to change public attitudes and behaviors and build support for obesity prevention policies. To date, Vital Strategies has supported obesity prevention efforts in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and South Africa, among others. Vital Strategies’ team of global experts in strategic communication, policy advocacy, and research and evaluation supports local partners advocating for policy change, building local capacity, optimizing effectiveness and growing the evidence base for obesity prevention initiatives. Strategic mass media campaigns implemented to date have been designed to warn consumers about the health harms of sugary drinks and junk foods among children and adults and to build support for taxes on sugary beverages, bans on junk food marketing that targets children, and clear nutritional labelling.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter at @VitalStrat.

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