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Why are malnutrition, overweight and obesity an EU problem?

With more than 200 million adults and 14 million children with overweight, the EU needs to face a real societal problem. Lifestyle factors, including diet, eating habits, levels of physical activity, but also genetic factors cause overweight and obesity.

For the European region, the WHO reports approximately 20% of children and adolescents to be overweight and one third of them to be obese. The trend in obesity is especially alarming in children and adolescents. The annual rate of increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity has been growing steadily, and the current rate is 10 times that in the 1970s.

Source: WHO 2007


Why should the EU fight obesity?

Being obese in childhood can have serious impact on health (heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and even some types of cancer). These are conditions that can lead to substantial disability and premature death.

The total direct and indirect annual costs of obesity alone in 2002 in the 15 countries that were EU members before May 2004 were estimated to be €32.8 billion per year according to the Impact Assessment background report. Later, Fry and Finley (2005) estimated direct and indirect costs of obesity (BMI ≥ 30kg/m2) at 0.3% of GDP for the EU15.

Extrapolating this to the EU25 using 2005 GDP figures, results in the cost of obesity as €40.5 billion a year for the EU25, and a cost to the EU of €81 billion for obesity and overweight.


What is the EU fruit and vegetables consumption?

In 2010, per capita fruit consumption is estimated at 219 g/capita/day and vegetable consumption is estimated at 228.1 g/capita/day for the EU-27.

While EU average per capita consumption for fruit and vegetables is above the WHO recommendations, too many Member States still have a lower level of per capita consumption than the minimum 400 gr recommended by the WHO.

This analysis remains worrying considering rising obesity

WHO/FAO minimum intake recommendation

Source: Monitor 2011 FRESHFEL EUROPE


What is the relationship between the Common Agricultural Policy and the European School Fruit Scheme?

The common agricultural policy focuses - amongst others - on stabilising agriculture markets by providing for stable outlet, increasing competitiveness of agriculture by fostering product innovation, contributing to regional and social cohesion. However, there is a growing focus on how to improve public health and the ultimate aim is to take into account health concerns in all EU policies.

For instance:

  • In 2005, DG SANCO established an EU platform on “Health, Diet and Physical activity”,
  • In 2007, DG SANCO publishes a White paper on “Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity” in which the European Commission draws the attention to the role that the Common Agricultural Policy could play in shaping a better diet and fighting overweight and obesity.
  • In September 2007, when the EU adopted the Fruit and Vegetables Reform, one of the key objectives was to reverse the declining consumption of fruit and vegetables amongst young people.
  • Following the approval of the Fruit and Vegetables Reform, the Council invited the European Commission to come forward with a proposal for a School Fruit Scheme based on an impact assessment.
  • The European Parliament on the European Union's 2008 draft general budget re-emphasised its strong commitment in funding a School Fruit Scheme.
  • Commission proposal for CAP post 2013 is to increase the EU financial envelope and cofinancing rate currently available for SFS.


Are School Fruit Schemes (SFS) an efficient tool?

The European School Fruit Scheme managed by DG-AGRI is now running for the third school term. This is a very important initiative targeting the youngest generations of Europeans and helping them to create healthy eating habits.

According to the annual monitoring reports 2010/2011, more than 54 000 schools and 8.1 millions of children have taken part in the School Fruit Scheme in 24 participating member states.


How can School Fruit Scheme effectiveness be measured?

DG AGRI is currently preparing an external evaluation of the Scheme which is due in 2012. Member States will also evaluate their schemes by February 2012. All this information will feed into the report of the Commission to the Council and the EP on the application of SFS, accompanied if necessary by appropriate proposals.

The report should address the issues of the extent to which the SFS has promoted the establishment of the well functioning SFS in MS and its impact on the improvement of children's eating habits.


What’s the EU added value of the School Fruit Scheme?

  • Give inspiration for starting new schemes or extending running schemes,
  • Provide a sustainable multi-annual funding framework,
  • Diminish social and economic inequalities as far as fruit and vegetables consumption is concerned,
  • Raise the awareness of the target group, because the School Fruit Scheme has a great potential to address population health problems,
  • Provide Member States with general guidelines and guidance on managing this program,
  • Integrate know-how, facilitate experience and best practices exchange between Member States, stakeholders and promoters by providing comparable information on programmes.


What does "5 a day" mean?

It corresponds to five portions (of 80gr) of fruit and vegetables every day. This is five portions of fruit and vegetables altogether, not five portions of each; and it is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems.


Why do I need to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

  • Fruit and vegetables are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet,
  • They are great source of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibers,
  • They can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some type of cancers.
  • They are low in fat and calories.