To counter obesity, free fruit and vegetables should be offered in Europe’s schools not just once a week but every day, to really have an influence on public health. That is the non-binding opinion of the European Parliament, responding to an idea from the Commission.
The MEPs proposed boosting the budget to 500 million euros per year, from the Commission’s suggested 90 million.
Belgian backer of the plan Jean-Paul Allonsius, of his country’s Obese Patients Association saids: “This is what was really needed to help our children get used to having fruit and vegetables. It’s truly necessary, because what they enjoy eating today they’ll appreciate tomorrow.”
EU programmes and co-funding with the member governments are aimed at complementing existing schemes and getting new ones going. But a British anti-obesity campaigner, David Haslam with the National Obesity Forum, took the latest EU move with a pinch of salt:
“Potentially, this is a step, but this has to be followed by thousands and thousands of other steps as well. We can’t just say we’ve cured obesity by putting fruit into schools. Because one single answer doesn’t exist. There are so many different answers in food, in physical activity in cycle paths, physical activity in schools… right across the medical professional, the food, retail, the government… there are so many different answers. This is just one small answer but I welcome it all the same.” If the proposal is adopted, the co-funded fruit plan could start with the 2009 school year.
Some campaigners insist obesity be recognised as a chronic illness, for which the patient should receive the support of a doctor, a dietician, a movement coach and a psychologist.