The European Parliament (Parliament) recently adopted an own-initiative resolution aimed at preventing overweight, obesity and chronic diseases. The move follows the European Commission’s (Commission’s) publication of a Green Paper on the issue in December last year, as well as the adoption by the World Health Organization Ministerial Conference of a charter on counteracting obesity last November.

In the resolution the Parliament, among other matters:

  • welcomes the Commission’s commitment to healthy eating and physical activity and to the fight against obesity and major diet related diseases, and calls on member states for this to be regarded as a political priority within the EU;
  • advises all member states to recognise obesity officially as a chronic disease and to ensure that obese individuals have access to appropriate treatment under their national heath systems;
  • says it expects the Commission to bring forward a White Paper with practical measures designed to reduce the number of overweight and obese people from 2015 at the latest;
  • indicates its view that television advertising campaigns designed to promote foodstuffs to children should be managed at EU level and calls for EU-wide controls to restrict advertising to children of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS);
  • calls for EU action to reduce the intake of trans-fats and notes that the nutrition labelling directive (Directive 90/496/EC) needs to be revised to indicate the presence and nature of nutrients and the nature of fats;
  • calls on the Commission, member states, manufacturers, retailers and caterers to step up efforts to reduce HFSS levels in food and calls on manufacturers to use product reformulation to prioritise cutting HFSS in existing everyday brands; and
  • calls on the Commission to develop mechanisms to promote best practice in schools, as this is where children spend most of their time, that take account of the most effective initiatives to educate children about healthy eating and provide food based on high nutritional standards.

The resolution also notes that the Parliament takes a strong interest in the food signposting systems put in place by food companies, retailers or public bodies, and calls on the Commission to develop and introduce an EU-wide front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme.