News article

EU to launch seven-year plan on childhood obesity

Posted:  Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The European Union is to launch a seven-year action plan to tackle childhood obesity next year, according to EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg. He revealed the plan in response to a written question from a member of the European Parliament, Polish Christian Democrat Jarosław Kalinowski.

Kalinowski wrote to Borg last month about a Polish bill to amend a 2006 law to ban junk food in schools that is currently on standstill until 11 December, to give the Commission and other Member States time to comment on whether it would have an impact on intra EU trade and potentially try to block the move.

Kalinowski went on to ask, “What is the Commission’s stance on the issue of healthy eating among schoolchildren in the EU? Does the Commission intend to take action to ensure that young Europeans enjoy a healthy, balanced diet and that access to unhealthy products in educational establishments is restricted?”

Responding on 15 November, Borg noted that recently, the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity – the group made up of government representatives and chaired by the Commission that gives Member State input and follow up to the EU Strategy for action on nutrition and physical activity - started to develop a common Action Plan to tackle childhood obesity, which should cover the 2014-2020 period.

Borg also flagged up the school fruit scheme as an example of EU efforts to combat obesity among children. “The School Fruit Scheme is an EU programme that aims to encourage good eating habits in children by providing them with fruit and vegetables at school. The scheme is an important EU-wide initiative targeting schoolchildren aged 1 to 18, and thus far 8.1 million children have benefited from the scheme,” Borg wrote, adding, “Additionally, the Commission has launched pilot projects aimed at promoting healthy diets and increasing consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in vulnerable societal groups, including children.”

The Commissioner further pointed out that, “The Joint Research Centre is currently working on a study that will look into school meal standards in Member States. It is planned to discuss the findings in the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity. However, it would be premature to predict any actions that may follow in the future at this point in time.”

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