Obesity, nutrition and physical activity
In view of the worrying rise in obesity prevalence rates in the European Union (EU), particularly among children, the Council calls on the Member States to take action to promote healthy diets and physical activity.
Conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Heath and Consumer Affairs Council of 3 June 2005, "Obesity, nutrition and physical activity " [Not published in the Official Journal].
Obesity is a multi-causal condition, and tackling it requires a comprehensive preventive approach, including multi-stakeholder efforts at local, regional, national, European and global levels.
Promoting healthy diets and physical activity has potential for reducing not only obesity but also the risks related to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer. More generally, healthy diets and physical activity considerably improve the quality of life.
Physical activity is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. For this reason, learning to enjoy sport and physical activity at school and during leisure time, as well as starting education about healthy living at an early age, is of the utmost importance.
The Council calls upon the Member States and, where appropriate, the European Commission to conceive and implement initiatives aimed at promoting healthy diets and physical activity, including:
- enabling citizens to make healthy dietary choices, and ensuring that healthy dietary options are available, affordable and accessible;
- fostering citizens' knowledge on the relationship between diet and health, energy intake and output, on diets that lower the risk of chronic diseases, and on healthy choices of food items;
- ensuring that consumers are not misled by advertising, marketing and promotion activities, and that especially the credulity of children and their limited experience with the media are not exploited;
Participation of all stakeholders
- enabling health professionals to give, on a routine basis, practical advice to patients and families on the benefits of optimal diets and increased levels of physical activity;
- encouraging stakeholders who are in a position to support the promotion of healthy diets (e.g. food producers, food processors, retailers, caterers) to take initiatives to this end;
mainstreaming of nutrition and physical activity into all relevant policies at local, regional, national and European levels, such as policies aimed at reducing the harmful effects of excessive alcohol consumption;
Physical activity and education
- monitoring the trends of healthy nutrition and physical activity in the population and further developing research and the scientific basis for actions in the field;
- fostering education on, and the supply of, healthy dietary choices at schools, and encouraging children and adolescents to exercise on a daily basis;
- developing nutrition and physical education activities for children as an integrated part of health education in general, which should also focus on issues such as combating smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and the use of drugs, as well as promoting sexual health and mental health;
- encouraging employers to offer healthy choices at workplace canteens and to provide facilities which encourage the practice of physical activity;
- fostering the development of urban environments that are conducive to physical activity.
The rise in obesity prevalence rates throughout the EU has become a very worrying phenomenon. More and more children are now overweight or obese. The figures are alarming and the consequences no less so, as obesity goes hand in hand with an increase in cardiovascular problems and diabetes.
To fight against this danger, the Commission set up an EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health in March 2005. The objective of this initiative, which involves experts on both nutrition and physical exercise, is to tackle the growing phenomenon of obesity in Europe in order to curb this trend.
- DG Health & Consumers - Nutrition and physical activity