"If we, in the past, were mainly challenged by malnutrition in children, we are today facing an epidemic of poor diets and low physical activity, leading to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and overweight," Troedsson said.
"The nutrition and health threats have actually expanded and worsened and this will not go away by itself. We need to address it urgently now and in the future," Troedsson added. "The health sector and the food sector need to work together."
Setting clear goals
"Aware of the enormous burden that it poses for millions of individuals and the development of their countries - the development of their societies - the EU and the Commission have placed the fight against undernutrition very high on the development agenda," said Roberto Ridolfi, European Union Commission Director for Sustainable Growth and Development.
Ridolfi added that the EU was pushing for "measurable and time-bound targets" to reduce child stunting and other consequences of malnutrition, and that the Preparatory Technical Meeting could play a crucial role in spelling out similar indicators.
Ridolfi lauded the meeting's organizers and other international agencies as "strategic allies, at global and country level, to support advocacy efforts for nutrition."
Around 300 experts and country representatives are gathered for the preparatory meeting, along with participants from other United Nations agencies and intergovernmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, researchers and consumer associations.
ICN2 will be a follow-up to the first such conference, which was held in 1992. Its aim is to take stock of progress made so far in improving nutrition and discuss how international coordination can be strengthened to improve the impact of national policies and programs that influence diets and health. The ICN2 will amplify the Secretary General's call to leaders gathered at the Rio+20 Summit to take up the "Zero Hunger Challenge."
ICN2 is also expected to contribute to the overall direction of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and to the focus of EXPO 2015 in Milan, whose theme will be "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life."