Jumbosize Europe? European Union conference on obesity calls for immediate action
AbstractThe average prevalence of obesity in Europe is now 15_/20%, with increasing rates in most countries. The prevalence of both overweight and obesity is as high as 50_/65%, and childhood obesity is also increasing at an alarming pace. The epidemic has been followed by a simultaneous rise in type II diabetes. Action is therefore urgently needed. This was stressed at a European Union (EU) conference on obesity held in September 2002 in Copenhagen. Our environment favours a high energy intake and a low energy expenditure, both conducive to weight gain. We must therefore change the environment and our behaviour to increase leisure-time physical activity and decrease the intake of fat-rich, energy-dense foods and drinks, e.g. by improved traffic planning, more physical activity in schools, differentiated taxes on foods and drinks, and banning of commercials for unhealthy foods. There is an urgent need for public health programmes, training of health professionals and coll aboration with the food industry. Prevention of overweight in children should be given high priority. A first sign of willingness to act has appeared: in December 2002 the Council of the EU adopted a number of conclusions on obesity put forward by the Danish EU Presidency as a result of this conference.
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