Policy Seminar

Leveraging Agriculture to Tackle Noncommunicable Diseases

Sep 7, 2011 - 04:15 pm to 05:45 pm EDT

A Lead-Up Seminar to the United Nations Summit on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases


Three of five deaths worldwide can be attributed to just four noncommunicable diseases—heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and cancer. Obesity, which has been linked to an increased risk for some of these diseases as well as other health concerns, is steadily on the rise in both developed and developing countries. Growing global concern about these issues has prompted a high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, to be held September 19–20.

Agriculture can be a powerful weapon in the fight against noncommunicable diseases, and should be a prominent part of the UN’s discussion. Many people in developing countries depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Improving agricultural productivity can increase household income and food security as well as the quantity and quality of food available to poor households. This, in turn, can promote dietary diversity and good nutrition and health, which is the first and most basic step in noncommunicable disease prevention.

“Leveraging Agriculture to Tackle Noncommunicable Diseases” will feature a panel discussion exploring how to take advantage of the connections between agriculture and noncommunicable diseases and how food and agriculture research can become part of the dialogue at the UN summit. Professor Tim Lang, City University London, will discuss major drivers and emerging trends with regard to the linkages between agriculture and these diseases. Derek Yach, PepsiCo, will talk about the role of the private sector in improving food and nutrition security. Rachel Nugent, Center for Global Development, will discuss healthy agriculture and noncommunicable diseases.