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Dispatches from the 6th Nutrition & Lifestyle conference in Brussels

6-year EU obesity platform nears completion: But has it worked?

By Shane Starling , 28-Mar-2012

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A 6-year project tackling obesity and other diet and physical activity-related health issues across the European Union has spawned 300 individual positive actions by government, commercial and other actors – and is not set to wind up until next year.

But how can the project be deemed a success when obesity and overweight rates, along with the incidence of chronic disease, continue to rise in almost all European countries?

While Paola Testori Coggi, the chief of the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers, acknowledged the EU’s ongoing obesity problem at a Brussels conference yesterday, her principal advisor, Despina Spanou, said there was much to like about the project Spanou herself chairs.

“We are evaluating what we have achieved and in that context people come in with their comments and they are coming with their critical remarks and in fact we welcome that because we need to know what people expect from this exercise,” Spanou said.

Long term problems, long term solutions

She added: “We have by today national strategies on issues like reformulating food, we have common agreed frameworks for changing the way food is; making it healthier. We have 33 European associations ranging from the medical profession, the consumer organisations, civil society to the food industry – even the advertisers.”

“We are bringing in committed actions – 300 actions in the last six years. That’s quite extraordinary so I think we can really be proud of how much we have done. What we are looking at now is how we should do that in the future.”

“Obesity is a long term problem and requires long term solutions.”

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