Renewed Commitment of Stakeholders to Combat Overweight and Obesity-Related Health Issues

Over half the EU adult population is now overweight or obese according to the "Health at a Glance: Europe 2010" report published by the European Commission and the OECD on 7 December. Yesterday, the European-level umbrella organisations, ranging from the food industry, health organisations and other civil society NGOs, who are members of the European Commission's Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health agreed to step up action to tackle the growing problem of overweight and obesity related health problems. The members committed to boosting 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 and 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 was also 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".

At their meeting today, the Platform members also endorsed improved working methods of Plenary meetings, and minimum requirements for Platform members' commitments.

Obesity a growing problem in the EU:

According to the EC/OECD Report "Health at a Glance" published last December, 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% to over 20% some Member States. On average, an estimated 15% of the EU adult population is obese.

Currently, 1 in 7 children in the EU are overweight or obese - and it is likely that the figures will rise even further. This is worrying, as children who are obese or overweight are more likely to suffer from poor health later in life, with greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, arthritis, asthma, a reduced quality of life and even premature death.

The EU platform for action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health was established in 2005. The purpose of the Platform was to provide an example of action-oriented cooperative process to help reverse the obesity trend. The Platform is also one of the main tools of the Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity-related health issues adopted in 2007. It is composed of European-level umbrella organisations, ranging from the food industry, health and sports organisations to civil society NGOs covering a wide range of issue on nutrition and physical activity issues as well as health-related maters. Platform members commit to concrete actions on tackling current trends in diet and physical activity to fight against obesity and overweight related problems.

The platform members have so far delivered close to 300 commitments of action in the areas of consumer information, education, physical activity promotion, marketing and advertising and composition of food, availability of healthy food and portion sizes.

For further information:

The EC/OECD "Health at a Glance" report: