Commentary Calls for Urgent Action to Address Climate Change, Malnutrition

January 3, 2020

Climate change and malnutrition threaten public health worldwide, with obesity and undernutrition each affecting approximately 2 billion people, writes William Dietz, PhD, MD, chair of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH), in a new commentary.

The commentary, published Jan. 6 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, calls for urgent action from business leaders, policymakers and grassroots activists to address these threats. Dietz calls for policy change that can address ‘The Global Syndemic,’ defined as the global interactions of the pandemics of obesity, undernutrition and climate change. In the commentary, Dietz explains several triple-duty solutions to the problem, which include changing the food system, urban design and federal policies.

“The future of our health and that of our planet depend on our ability to massively reduce our contribution to climate change, and we have a limited amount of time in which to do so,” Dietz writes.

In January 2019, Dietz co-authored a report by The Lancet Commission on Obesity that initially defined ‘The Global Syndemic,’ which was the result of a three-year project that included 26 experts from 14 countries. The report was ranked one of the top 100 most-discussed academic papers for 2019 by Altmetric, a company that tracks and analyzes online activity around academic literature.

The commentary, “Climate change and malnutrition: we need to act now,” was published Jan. 6 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.