The High Level Conference on Monitoring and Evaluation of EU and Member States’ strategies on nutrition, overweight and obesity related health strategies took place in Brussels on 8 and 9 December 2010. EPHA’s report of this key event is available below.
After the opening of the conference by Jean Marc Delizée, Belgian Secretary of State for Social Affairs, DG SANCO Director General Paola Testori-Coggi made the first presentation of the two day conference. She began by reminding the audience of the overall picture: while the health of the European Union population has continuously increased over the past decades, new challenges have appeared, notably the frightening increase of overweight and obesity levels and its consequences on chronic diseases. Ms Testori-Coggi then explained elements of the ’First Progress Report on the Implementation of the EU Nutrition Strategy’:
Several tools have been put into place, amongst them the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical activity, and the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical activity and Health;
the Common Framework on Salt Reduction has been agreed on by the HLG;
the Food Information to Consumers Regulation;
the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation.
While a broad range of actions have been implemented, the main objective of the EU Strategy is still far from being achieved, with few signs of decrease. Therefore, all stakeholders have been encouraged to continue and even increase their efforts to fight overweight and obesity.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, Director of the World Health Organization European Region presented the WHO Progress Report on the implementation of the European Charter on Counteracting Obesity.
The presentations that followed focused on national nutrition and health plans notably in Belgium, France and Slovenia.
Following the model of the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, national platforms aiming at fighting against the burden of overweight and obesity related issues were also created. The Portuguese Platform Against Obesity was presented by its national coordinator, Pedro Garça.
The afternoon session of the first day was devoted to parallel working groups developing the following issues:
the importance of monitoring and evaluation in policy development;
the engagement of public-private partnerships;
"health in all policies" and its concrete application;
challenges and opportunities for food offer; and
investment in nutrition and physical activity in the health sector.
After the ’’successes and challenges of the Pan-Canadian Integrated Healthy Living Strategy’ were presented in the morning, time was set aside to share the results of the working groups from day 1.
Several speeches followed the morning session including one by European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli on "the way forward" on nutrition, overweight and obesity, and the European Parliament perspective on the issues presented by Glenis Willmott MEP (S&D, UK).
Amongst other issues, Ms Wilmott commented on the Food Information to Consumers Regulation, and the Regulation on Advertising of HFSS Food to Children. Being a strong traffic light supporter, the MEP criticised the role of industry and the amount of resources put in their lobbying campaign in order to avoid stronger regulation. She concluded her intervention by reminding participants of the problem that foods high in fat, sugar and salt are still cheaper to buy than fruits and vegetables. On this point she stated that she will be ready to advocate for a needed change.
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