European Commission To Tackle The Obesity Epidemic
European Commission adopted a White Paper setting out a wide range of proposals on how the EU can tackle nutrition, overweight and obesity related health issues.
The White Paper stresses the importance of enabling consumers to make informed choices, ensuring that healthy options are available, and calls upon the food industry to work on reformulating recipes, in particular to reduce levels of salt and fats. Stressing the benefit of physical activity and encouraging Europeans to exercise more is another area to develop. The need for EU action in the area of nutrition and physical activity stems from the fact that poor diets and low levels of physical activity in Europe account for six of the seven leading risk factors for ill health in Europe. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased sharply during the last two decades. In the majority of Member States more than 50% of the adult population is overweight or obese. Furthermore, it is estimated that 21,748,312 million children are overweight in the EU with this figure growing by 400,000 each year.
EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "The rise of obesity makes improving the diets and physical activity levels of Europeans a top public health priority for the EU in the years ahead. If we don't act, today's overweight children will be tomorrow's heart attack victims. What consumers eat is up to them, but they should be able to make informed choices, and have a range of healthy options to choose from. That is why the Commission is reviewing the options for nutrition labelling, and calling on industry to advertise responsibly and reduce levels of salt, fats and sugar in food products."
The White Paper calls for more action orientated partnerships across the EU involving inter alia private actors and public health and consumer organisations. This builds on existing mechanisms such as the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and calls on the range of stakeholders across the EU to work together to establish fora at national and local level within Member States. It aims to strengthen links with Member States, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other important stakeholders. To ensure high level political support, and cross sectoral co-operation within Member States, the White Paper proposes the creation of a new High Level Group focused on nutrition, overweight and obesity related health issues, comprising a representative from every Member State.
The Commission also calls for stronger action on the part of private actors across the EU in a number of areas. These include: