VERA FILES FACT CHECK: ‘WHO’ list of killer foods NOT TRUE

A fake list of “top 10 killer foods” attributed to the World Health Organization (WHO) has made the rounds among thousands of Filipino Facebook (FB) users. The tally is bogus.

Posted by one netizen on Feb. 21 and another on March 25, the false graphic shows what looks like a slide presentation bearing the WHO logo and a list of eight food items, namely: french fries, burger, ice cream, iced tea, the red pack of Chippy chips, doughnuts, pancit canton and sweetened pork.

The WHO has denied that the list was theirs. “We would like to clarify that WHO has never declared a list of 10 killer foods,” the WHO Philippines Communications Unit wrote in a March 24 email to VERA Files Fact Check.

WHO Philippines said it encourages a healthy diet. The world health body’s Western Pacific Region, to which the Philippines belongs, has produced a pocket guide for a healthy diet.

The FB user that uploaded the untrue graphic in February wrote in her caption that the photo was taken during a health awareness seminar a day earlier. Her image was shared over 3,700 times.

More than a month later, another netizen uploaded the false list with a caption, translated from Filipino, saying, “This is scary. Because of this, I will unfollow the WHO.” He also gave a link to a sign up sheet for people interested in becoming financial advisors. His post has gotten 34,000 shares as of publishing.

VERA Files found a similar list in a presentation uploaded in December 2012. It also bore the WHO logo, and that of a marketing company that produces vitamins and dietary supplements. The slide presentation published then stated that seven of the so-called “killer foods” are found in the Philippines. The post flagged by VERA Files this year lists eight.

At the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, the WHO warned on March 4, World Obesity Day, that the disease can be more severe or more fatal to people with obesity. It also recognized that the pandemic has made it harder for people to engage in physical activity and access safe, nutritious food.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)