Young Europeans risk getting caught up in an obesity epidemic which, according to the EU’s health commissioner, is just as bad as in North America.
Fatter, saltier foods and sweeter drinks are high on the hit list of the new European Action Platform on Diet and Physical Activity.
International task force data shows that in Portugal, Spain, Malta and Italy around one third of schoolchildren aged seven to eleven are overweight, in England, more than a quarter of them.
In the Netherlands, not many more than than ten percent of the children in this age group are overweight.
The European action plan brings together EU-level representatives of the food, retail, catering and advertising industries, consumer organisations and health NGOs.
Commissioner Markos Kyprianou chaired the first meeting in Brussels with environmental and public safety officials taking part, and figures from the business sector and civil society.
Over the coming months, platform members will develop and put forward details on how they suggest healthier diets can be promoted, and how the young in particular can be encouraged to take more exercise.
The latest statistics indicate that 400,000 more schoolchildren are joining the ranks of the overweight every year.
Accounting for an estimated two-to-eight percent of health care costs, obesity is a risk factor for many serious illnesses, and poor diet and lack of exercise are said to be among the leading causes of avoidable death.