Partnership to Tackle Obesity in Asia Now in Its Second Year

Obesity and other chronic diseases are caused by a multitude of factors, hence, the need for a whole package of complex solutions where different stakeholders have different roles to play.

Along this line, a unique public-private initiative was launched in the region in January 2015. Called the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition, or ARoFIIN, the event brought together experts from government, academia, industry, non-governmental and civil society sectors across Asia to initiate a regional, multi-stakeholder dialogue on the role of food innovation and reformulation in tackling obesity and chronic diseases.

Once again this year, the 2nd ARoFIIN Roundtable will happen on 29 January in Singapore. Convened by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) and Food Industry Asia (FIA), this event seeks to drive ARoFIIN further through concrete steps and deliverables.

ARoFIIN is group of key decision-makers that works toward fostering a conducive forum to support dissemination of science-based information on the causes and drivers of obesity and chronic diseases. It works to improve clarity on the barriers and enablers for research and development (R&D) and food innovation in the region. ARoFIIN leverages effective public-private partnerships and stimulates scalable, cost-effective and multi-stakeholder strategies that drive food innovation and positive change in consumer behaviour.

This year’s theme – “From knowledge to action: listen, learn and lead to deliver results” – will have the delegates develop a clear mission and roadmap for 2016 and beyond. They will also have the opportunity to launch into real action within their respective Taskforces and to brainstorm scalable solutions for tackling obesity in Asia.

There are four taskforces that will coordinate ARoFIIN’s work over the next few years. Taskforce 1 will focus on establishing a clear governance structure for ARoFIIN, facilitating communications and debate, and formalising the ARoFIIN initiative and taskforce projects. Focusing on consumers, Taskforce 2 will facilitate R&D in food innovation related to diets and consumer preferences in Asia, and will look into the cost-impact of the burden of obesity in Asia. Taskforce 3, on the other hand, will look at processes and enablers that will cultivate a positive regulatory climate for innovation. Lastly, Taskforce 4 will look at the double burden of undernutrition and obesity in Asia, and assess how food supply-distribution mechanisms can be optimised through joined-up dialogue in inter-governmental fora.

“We have an exciting journey ahead, and we are confident that these four Taskforces will help provide the foundation and framework for all the work to be done with ARoFIIN,” said Dr. Wong Yee Ting, ARoFIIN Coordinator and Head of Nutrition, Innovation & Partnerships at FIA.

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