Health Council : Ministers Advocate Principles for Tackling Obesity

Article excerpt

The debate by the 27 on nutrition and physical activity focused on the guiding principles that should underpin the drive against obesity, particularly among children. At its sitting on 31 May, the Health Council also reacted favourably to the strategy presented the day before by the European Commission, putting the accent on a voluntary approach and the good faith of industry to stamp out rising obesity in the EU.

In the EU, more than 200 million adults are overweight or obese, ie more than half the adult population, according to the figures quoted by the Commission. Three million European school children are obese, with another 85,000 joining their ranks yearly.

The member states' priorities are to slash the number of overweight and obese individuals, especially among children, and enhance the promotion of health, balanced nutrition and physical activity at all levels and in all sectors of policy development and implementation (agriculture, environment, urban planning, transport, education, economic sphere and research). The states also wish to emphasise the prevention of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, back problems andjoint problems.

Portugal, which will continue steering the debate during its six-month Presidency beginning on 1 July, called for a more precise assessment of the phenomenon. Slovenia, which is next in line to take up the rotating EU Presidency, plans to emphasise cancer, nutrition and physical activity.

For Cyprus, there needs to be more research on combating diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Romania launched a wide TV and radio campaign two months ago to alert its citizens to the dangers of excessive consumption of salt, sugar and substances harmful to health.

Italy recommends the exchange of best practice by the 27, leading to the application of uniform standards across Europe. Greece stressed physical exercise and the promotion of extra-curricular activities. …