Reuters Special Report Examines PAHO's 'Partnership' With Food, Beverage Industry

To fight chronic “diseases in Mexico, the nation with the world’s highest rate of obese and overweight adults, a Reuters investigation found that WHO’s regional office has turned to the very companies whose sugary drinks and salty foods are linked to many of the maladies it’s trying to prevent,” the news service reports. “The office, the Pan American Health Organization, not only is relying on the food and beverage industry for advice on how to fight obesity,” but, “[f]or the first time in its 110-year history, it has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in money from the industry,” Reuters writes.

“Accepting industry funding goes against WHO’s worldwide policies,” but “the Pan American office — known as PAHO, based in Washington and founded 46 years before it was affiliated with WHO in 1948 — had different standards allowing the business donations,” Reuters notes. “Even so, not until this February did PAHO begin taking industry money, Reuters found,” according to the news service, which details some of its findings. “The industry’s cash donations, which have not been previously reported, were described by Irene Klinger, a senior adviser for partnerships in PAHO, as ‘a new way of doing business,'” Reuters writes, adding, “Increasingly, it is relying on what it calls ‘partnerships’ with industry, opting to enter into alliances with food and beverage companies rather than maintain strict neutrality.” Reuters notes, “Klinger and other WHO officials who work with industry say they are careful to maintain control of policymaking” (Wilson/Kerlin, 10/19).

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