In May 2007, The Commission established a coherent and comprehensive Community Strategy to address the issues of overweight and obesity, by adopting the White Paper. A Strategy on Nutrition, Overweight, and Obesity-related health issues focussing on action that can be taken at local, regional, national and European levels to reduce the risks associated with poor nutrition and limited physical exercise, while addressing the issue of inequalities across member states.
In particular, the strategy:
- Encompasses a range of Commission policies that can be, and are being marshalled towards the purpose of improving nutrition and preventing overweight and obesity; examples (non-exhaustive) of some of these policy areas can be found listed in the table below:
DG/ Policy Area Initiative / Project Health and Food Safety - Food Safety Food Labelling
Health and Nutrition Claims
Agriculture School Fruit Scheme
School milk scheme
Information Society – Audiovisual media services Audiovisual Media Services Directive Research Research projects in food, nutrition and health
FP 6 projects
Transport Clean Urban Transport Regional Policy European regional development fund (ERDF) Education and Culture
- Encourages more action-oriented partnerships across the EU, involving key stakeholders working in the field of nutrition: the private sector, Member States, the European Commission and the WHO.
- Sets out a series of challenges to relevant stakeholders at all levels, notably the food industry, civil society and the media, by calling for widespread food reformulation schemes and responsible advertising.
- Sets out the Commission's plans to strengthen monitoring and reporting of the situation, in collaboration with the WHO, through initiatives such as the Nutrition Policy Database or the International inventory of documents on physical activity promotion.
Actions outlined in the strategy are based on sound scientific evidence showing relations between certain dietary and physical activity patterns and risk factors for certain chronic diseases. However, the strategy also outlines the need for further research in this area, and moreover underlines the central role of the Commission in facilitating partnerships and taking the lead in establishing a common framework for action.
Further information - Strategy Background / Precedents
Over the past years, most action in the field of obesity prevention has been spontaneous and unilateral. This has often deprived other potential partners of participation and validation of opportunities, thus diminishing the actual value added of such initiatives. The need to create a systematic and transparent process was recognised, whereby:
- outcomes of individual actors' performances can be reported and reviewed;
- experience can be pooled and synergies can be created;
- firm commitments to action are made;
- Commitments are validated and receive credit as appropriate.
The White Paper builds on recent initiatives undertaken by the Commission, in particular:
- the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health , set up in March 2005 with the purpose of creating a forum for actors at European level who are willing to commit themselves to engaging in concrete actions designed to contain or reverse current trends.
- the Green Paper Promoting healthy diets and physical activity: a European dimension for the prevention of overweight, obesity and chronic diseases
Since the adoption of the White Paper, the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity has been set up to strengthen the role of governments in counteracting overweight and obesity.
In order to achieve overall health and well-being, every person needs:
- A healthy diet
- Regular physical activity
- Healthy body weight
Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity may lead to a huge health and budgetary burden.
Making small changes to your eating habits and taking up regular physical activity can make a big difference to your health, decreasing the risk of developing chronic diseases. Lifestyle improvements can also be directly related to improvements of children's attainment at school and of workers' productivity.