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Europe takes action on obesity

Stakeholders pledge to step up action to combat overweight and obesity-related health problems

Stakeholders in Europe have pledged to step up action to combat overweight and obesity-related health problems. According to the 'Health at a Glance: Europe 2010' report published by the European Commission (EC) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in December 2010, over half of the EU adult population is now overweight or obese.

As a result, European-level umbrella organisations from the food industry, health organisations and other civil society NGOs, which are members of the EC's Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, have committed to boost activities that contribute to the objectives of the Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity-related health issues by 2013. Priorities focus on children and how to make healthy choices available, whilst also encouraging physical activity and sports.

Action will target vulnerable groups, including children, adolescents and low socio-economic groups. The need to improve existing commitments in product composition for healthier food and in advertising and marketing to children has also been highlighted.

The European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, said: "I am pleased to see that Platform members have agreed to scale up their action. This demonstrates commitment to the goals we set out together to fight the increasing trend of obesity, to address poor dietary habits and to increase physical activity levels in the EU."

According to the EC/OECD report, the rate of obesity has more than doubled in the past 20 years in most EU Member States. The prevalence varies from country to country, from less than 10 per cent to over 20 per cent. On average, an estimated 15 per cent of the EU adult population is obese.

Currently, one in seven children in the EU is overweight or obese and it is likely that the figures will rise even further.

The Platform was established in 2005 to act cooperatively to help reverse the obesity trend. Members have delivered almost 300 commitments of action in the areas of consumer information, education, physical activity promotion, marketing, advertising and composition of food, availability of healthy food and portion sizes.

16th February 2011

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