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Public Health

Strategy on nutrition, overweight and obesity-related health issues

In May 2007, The Commission established a coherent and comprehensive Community Strategy to address the issues of overweight and obesity, by adopting the White PaperA Strategy on Nutrition, Overweight, and Obesity-related health issues focussing on action that can be taken at local, regional, national and European levels to reduce the risks associated with poor nutrition and limited physical exercise, while addressing the issue of inequalities across member states.

In particular, the strategy:

Actions outlined in the strategy are based on sound scientific evidence showing relations between certain dietary and physical activity patterns and risk factors for certain chronic diseases. However, the strategy also outlines the need for further research in this area, and moreover underlines the central role of the Commission in facilitating partnerships and taking the lead in establishing a common framework for action.

Relevant health information can be found on the Public Health website under Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes, or by browsing the European Core Health Indicators (ECHI).

Further information - Strategy Background / Precedents

Over the past years, most action in the field of obesity prevention has been spontaneous and unilateral. This has often deprived other potential partners of participation and validation of opportunities, thus diminishing the actual value added of such initiatives. The need to create a systematic and transparent process was recognised, whereby:

  • outcomes of individual actors' performances can be reported and reviewed;
  • experience can be pooled and synergies can be created;
  • firm commitments to action are made;
  • Commitments are validated and receive credit as appropriate.

The White Paper builds on recent initiatives undertaken by the Commission, in particular:

  • the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health , set up in March 2005 with the purpose of creating a forum for actors at European level who are willing to commit themselves to engaging in concrete actions designed to contain or reverse current trends.
  • the Green Paper Promoting healthy diets and physical activity: a European dimension for the prevention of overweight, obesity and chronic diseases

Since the adoption of the White Paper, the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity has been set up to strengthen the role of governments in counteracting overweight and obesity.

In order to achieve overall health and well-being, every person needs:

  • A healthy diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Healthy body weight

Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity may lead to a huge health and budgetary burden.

Making small changes to your eating habits and taking up regular physical activity can make a big difference to your health, decreasing the risk of developing chronic diseases. Lifestyle improvements can also be directly related to improvements of children's attainment at school and of workers' productivity.

What is the EU doing?

Acting on nutrition and physical activity is essential for health promotion and disease prevention and in some areas only EU coordination can ensure results.

The 2007 strategy on nutrition, overweight, and obesity-related health issues.

  • Encourages partnerships, involving groups working in the fields of nutrition and physical activity, the private sector, governments, the European Commission and the World Health Organisation (WHO);
  • Sets out a series of challenges to the food industry, civil society and media, by calling for widespread efforts on improving food products recipes, responsible marketing and labelling, and promotion of physical activity, among others;
  • Sets out the Commission's plans to strengthen monitoring and reporting, in collaboration with the WHO, through initiatives such as the Nutrition Policy Database or the International Inventory of documents on physical activity promotion

Related EU initiatives

Funding and support

The Commission funds several initiatives addressing nutrition and physical activity through its Public Health Programme. It also manages pilot projects funded by the European Parliament to test novel practices.


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Best practices