Berlin, 14.04.2021

Round Table on Nutrition in Type 2 Diabetes Ends Without Results

Research at the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) must be further intensified and a ban on advertising for unhealthy children's food should be a binding part of the next coalition agreement.

Unfortunately, however, the round table of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) on "Nutrition in Type 2 Diabetes" on April 13th ended without results. Federal Minister Julia Klöckner had invited scientists from the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) as well as representatives of the German Diabetes Society (DDG) and other associations. The DDG and DZD subsequently regret the open outcome and point out how important it is, for example, not only to tentatively regulate the advertising of unhealthy food to children, as recently agreed by the BMEL with The German Advertising Federation (ZAW), but to ban it.

Ninety-two percent of the advertising that children see on TV and the Internet promotes fast food, snacks and sweets – and this despite the fact that the industry has been imposing voluntary commitments in this regard for years. "The new version of the voluntary, non-binding recommendations on marketing for children's food, which the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture has now launched together with the ZAW, will do little to change this situation," said DDG Managing Director Barbara Bitzer. These are recommendations developed by the industry itself, which are still non-binding and vague and therefore in no way correspond to the recommendations of the WHO. "We need legislative measures at the federal level, comparable to the ban on tobacco advertising," said Bitzer. These include a "healthy value added tax", i.e. a reduced tax rate on healthy foods with a low proportion of sugar, fats and / or salt – legislation that has been long called for by the DDG. Together with other measures such as one hour of exercise a day for children and adolescents as well as binding nutritional standards in daycare centers and schools, a breakthrough in the prevention of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases can be achieved. "The foundations for a person's later eating habits are already laid during pregnancy and childhood. Therefore, especially the healthy nutrition of children and adolescents must not be left to chance", said the President of the DDG, Professor Monika Kellerer, MD. Education alone does not help: only through binding, society-wide measures can the number of people with overweight and obesity, who often subsequently develop type 2 diabetes, be reduced in the future.

Even though the DDG and the scientists of the DZD were invited by Minister Klöckner under the heading "Nutrition in Type 2 Diabetes", this topic was not the focus at the round table, but rather questions of general nutrition competence and education. Although this also needs to be strengthened, it is not enough, according to DDG President Kellerer: "We therefore expect, at the latest in the next coalition agreement, a clear commitment to more binding legislation to curb the threatening obesity and diabetes pandemic.

The importance of this commitment can also be scientifically proven. Today we know that not all people need the same and equally intensive nutritional advice. "Scientifically, risk groups can be identified – also among people with type 2 diabetes. Personalized nutrition programs should then be offered for them," said Professor Andreas Fritsche, MD, one of the study leaders of the Prediabetes Lifestyle Intervention Study (PLIS) initiated by the DZD. The DZD is one of six German Centres for Health Research co-funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which, among other things, is intensively involved in personalized nutritional prevention and therapy for type 2 diabetes. In order to achieve reliable assessments of nutritional preventive measures, it is important to use the expertise of other research institutions and scientists as well as to network with other ministries such as the BMBF and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG)," said DZD spokesperson Professor Dr. Annette Schürmann from the German Institute for Human Nutrition, Potsdam. "We were delighted about the invitation to the round table and appreciate the minister's commitment to making progress on the subject of healthy nutrition," said DDG President Kellerer. "But such events only have a positive effect for the citizens if clear goals are striven for, jointly discussed and concrete steps identified." Now the DDG and DZD are counting on the next legislative period: After not much has happened in recent years despite the announcement and adoption of a National Diabetes Strategy, the legislature must finally implement effective measures for a health-promoting lifestyle.


About the German Diabetes Society (DDG):
With more than 9200 members, the German Diabetes Society (DDG)  is one of the major medical and scientific societies in Germany. It supports science and research, is involved in continuing education and training, certifies treatment facilities and develops guidelines. Its goal is more effective prevention and treatment of diabetes, a widespread disease that affects more than eight million people in Germany. To this end, it also undertakes extensive health policy activities.

About the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD):
The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) is one of six German Centers for Health Research. It brings together experts in the field of diabetes research and combines basic research, epidemiology and clinical application. By adopting a novel, integrative approach to research, the DZD aims to make a substantial contribution to the successful, personalized prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus. The members of the association are Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) in Düsseldorf, the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) in Potsdam-Rehbruecke, the Institute of Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University of Tübingen, and the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University Medical Center Carl Gustav Carus of TU Dresden, associated partners at the universities in Heidelberg, Cologne, Leipzig, Lübeck and Munich, as well as other project partners. 

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