The European Commission launched on 30 May 2007 a White paper on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues.
In this document the European Commission has shown its awareness about the alarming situation of overweight and obesity in Europe and its consequences on health. However the measures proposed are not in line with the seriousness of the situation.
The European Commission states that some of the measures should be the revision of the legislation on nutrition labelling, which would provide better information to consumers, and to ensure the availability of healthy options. The European Commission also recognises that there is a need to promote physical activity.
In particular, the European Commission says that its actions will be based on the strengthening of partnerships and on voluntary measures.
The European Commissions calls for the following:
Reformulation of food products; the industry should work towards the reduction of salt and fats.
Marketing; the Commission encourages the creation of advertising codes and the use of marketing techniques to encourage physical activity.
Creating partnerships; the European Commission encourages private, public, international and non governmental actors to cooperate actively, building on existing mechanisms such as the EU Platform for Diet, Physical Activity and Health. The European Commission also encourages actors to do the same at national and local level.
High Level Group on Nutrition; the European Commission encourages Member States to take part in the High Level Group that will be set up to discuss nutrition issues.
The European Commission reiterates the importance of working on other EU policies such as regional, transport and urban policies, sport and research programmes and health and food safety policies.
Finally, the European Commission plans to monitor the attainment of the objectives of the Nutrition Strategy, in cooperation with the World Health Organisation.
Although the European food and drink industry welcomed the White Paper, consumer and health organisations have criticised the content and the lack of legislative initiatives.
According to consumer organisations, the White Paper is giving another three years (until 2010) to the food industry to demonstrate if self-regulation works in the protection of public health.
BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation said that the White Paper "is like slimming regimes, build on false hopes and unrealistic expectations".
The next revision of the White Paper will take place in 2010, when the Member States might decide to introduce legislative measures. This delay, passes the responsibility to the successor of our current Health Commissioner, Markos Kyprianou.