Bad eating and sluggish lifestyles have been identified as an urgent public health issue in public consultation results just presented by the European Commission. Around 14 million children in Europe are overweight; more than 3 million are obese. Brussels has called for co-ordinated action at EU level, as well as within Member States, in response to the rising alarm.
Promoting healthy diets and physical activity it says are core areas for development, as obesity- related illnesses are estimated to account for as much as 7% of total healthcare costs in the EU. Most contributors in the consultation call for a multi-sector approach, with special attention paid to children and youth.
There were also calls for improved and evidence-based consumer information on nutrition. Suggested best practices included offering free or subsidized fruit, vegetables and drinking water in schools. There is broad agreement that policy in this area must bear in mind the young-aged population first. Up to 27% of European men and 38% of women in the EU are now considered to be obese.