Brussels, 30 October 2007
The European Commission has joined forces with Euro-toques (ET), the European association of chefs, to teach European children about the importance of eating a balanced diet.
By organising fun workshops with top-level chefs in several European countries, the aim is to develop an interest amongst European children in healthy eating and cooking.
The European Day of Healthy Food and Cooking aims to raise awareness of the impact that teaching children the basic principles of good nutrition can have.
Habits start young. If children learn to enjoy cooking, eat healthily and exercise regularly from an early age, they are much more likely to continue such practices in adulthood.
This, in turn, could contribute to lowering obesity levels in Europe, as the adults of the future would be more aware of the need for a balanced diet and physical activity.
On the European Day of Healthy Food and Cooking, chefs in several Member States will either visit schools or invite children to their restaurants to explain them how to cook and eat well. The European Commission is also sending ambassadors to the Member States to contribute to the various activities that have been organised, as outlined below:
Belgium: Commissioner Kyprianou will visit the European School in Ixelles where 60 children will attend cooking demonstrations and workshops. The Commissioner will be accompanied by several Euro-toques chefs: Mr Bernard Fournier (ET International), Mr. Henri Charvet (ET France), Mr. Tona (ET Italy) and Mr Gunnar Forssell (ET Sweden).
Germany: Visits to schools and restaurants foreseen in Reichelseim, Gelsenkirchen, Goch, Medebach, Könnigsbrunn, and Renningen.
Bulgaria: The city council of Sofia has worked with the Commission to organise a big event to promote healthy eating in a city centre cinema. Around 40 chefs and 400 children will attend, and the film "Ratatouille" (about a rat that enjoys cooking) will be shown for free.
Cyprus: Primary schools all across Cyprus will be involved in the day to learn about good and healthy diets, in cooperation with the Cypriot Ministry of Education.
Denmark: Commissioner Marianne Fischer Boel will visit a school in Copenhagen with the Danish Euro-toques President Mr. John Kofod Pedersen to speak to the children about healthy eating. Mrs Fischer Boel will also have a meeting with Denmark's top chefs to discuss the European campaign for more balanced lifestyles.
Spain: Euro-toques has organized visits to around 70 schools all over the country, and the Spanish president of Euro-toques, Pedro Subijana, will teach about healthy eating at the Ikastola Ekintza school in San Sebastian Donostia.
Finland: Chefs will visit 5 schools in Finland to give demonstrations on how to cook balanced meals.
France: The Commission representation is organising a press conference on November 6th with the participation of the President of Euro-toques France Henri Charvet. More than 400 restaurants will distribute flyers with recipes and will welcome children and their parents to eat there that evening.
Greece: Some restaurants in Athens will offer a healthy “kids menus” to mark European Day of Healthy Food and Cooking.
Ireland: For the entire week around the European Day, 20 workshops hosted by 14 chefs will take place in different schools around Ireland. The main workshop and press event will take place on 8 November at the Commission representation, with a class of school children and chefs.
Italy: Schools in certain Italian cities (Brescia, Parma) will be involved in healthy eating activities on 8 November.
Luxemburg: Over 20 restaurants in Luxembourg will contribute to the awareness raising activities for children. The Commission representation will organise a press conference at “La Maison de l’Europe” on 6 November with President of Euro-toques Luxembourg Mr Ramaud.
Sweden: Four schools around Stockholm will be involved in the event, with Euro-toques President of Sweden, Jespen Johansson.
Romania: The Radauti school in Suceava, Romania was the winner of the EU Mini-chefs drawing contest, held to prior to the Healthy Food and Cooking Day. Many chefs and schools in Romania will take part in healthy food activities.
Key data on obesity in europe
Childhood obesity in Europe is growing at an alarming rate and is accelerating rapidly.
In 2005, 14 million children were categorised as overweight or obese with an estimated 400 000 children entering this category every year. In 2007, the number has risen to 22 million.
There are serious health consequences for obese children now and as they grow up.
Around 20 000 obese children have type-2 diabetes, over a million obese children are likely to show signs for cardiovascular diseases, and over 1.4 million may have early stages of liver disorder.
Obese children are more likely to become obese adults, meaning they will be at higher risk of developing cancer, heart disease and suffering from depression.
The European Commission has made action against obesity a priority:
There has been longstanding cooperation between the EU and Member State authorities to coordinate actions to tackle obesity and exchange best practice. A number of obesity and nutrition-related projects are co-financed by the EU under the Public Health Action Programmes and the Research Framework programmes.
In 2005, the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health was set up, encouraging a multi-sector approach to address the obesity problem. The Platform brings together the food industry, NGOs, and advertisers who are committed to voluntary actions to tackle obesity, for example stopping advertisements of sugary drinks to children, providing better nutritional information in fast food restaurants, and reformulating recipes to have lower salt, sugar and fat levels. (see MEMO/06/418)
The Commission also adopted, in May 2007, a White Paper entitled "A strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Obesity and Overweight".
Improving consumer information is key to helping EU citizens in making healthy lifestyle choices. EU rules are in place for food labelling, and before the end of 2007, the Commission will bring out a proposal to update the rules on general and nutritional labelling. In addition, the legislation on Health and Nutrition Claims entered into force in July 2007, ensuring that any claims made on food labels were clear and substantiated.