Healthy Breakfast: tackling European obesity epidemic

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EHMA participates in the Healthy Breakfast event on tackling European obesity epidemic, organised by MEP Alfred Sant and EASO, the European Association for the Study of Obesity

Brussels, 26 April 2016
This morning, EHMA took part in a Breakfast event hosted by MEP Alfred Sant (S&D, Malta) with the collaboration of EASO, the European Association for the Study of Obesity.
The event focused on a major new initiative, leaded by several Members of the European Parliament, to tackle Europe’s rising obesity epidemic. The MEPs, leaded by MEP Alfred Sant, have launched a Written Declaration calling for the European Commission and the European Council to work towards a Europe-wide recognition of obesity as a chronic disease.

The Declaration highlights the alarming prediction that by 2030 over 50% of Europeans will be obese, with some countries exceeding 90% of overweight or obese people. The MEPs who have initiated the Written Declaration with Mr Sant are Enrico Gasbarra (S&D), Marc Tarabella (S&D), Fabio Massimo Castaldo (EFDD), Patricija ŠULIN (PPE), Giovanni La Via (PPE), Tomáš Zdechovský (PPE), Ivan Jakovčić (ALDE), Edward Czesak (ECR), and Ángela Vallina (GUE/NGL).

Presenting the Written Declaration, Mr. Sant stressed that “obesity is already estimated to cost the European Union €70 billion annually in healthcare costs and lost productivity; with the total burden likely to be even higher, as obesity causes many other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers”.

Mr Sant described obesity is complex and is caused by many different factors, including medical, cultural and socioeconomic dynamics. He also emphasised that “better prevention and treatment of obesity will provide tangible healthcare system savings, as well as reducing the suffering of the millions affected”. He thus underlined the urgent need to recognise obesity as a disease in order to ensure better mobilisation of resources when it comes to the prevention, treatment and care of the disease.
Among other speakers at the event were Dr Roberto Bertollini, Chief Scientist and WHO Representative to the EU; Dr Nathalie Farpour-Lambert, President Elect of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO); and Ellen Govers, from the European Federation of the Association of Dietitians.
Dr Bertollini, WHO representative, said that both societies and governments need to act to tackle the growing obesity epidemic: “National policies should encourage and provide opportunities for greater physical activity, and improve the affordability, availability and accessibility of healthy foods. They should also encourage the involvement of different government sectors, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders”.

Dr Farpour-Lambert, during her intervention, mentioned the importance of re-tailoring and ameliorating health workforce training to give health professionals enhanced competences to better tackle obesity and childhood obesity.

As mentioned, this event was held in conjunction with The European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) as one of the initiatives held in the run up to European Obesity Day, which will take place on 21st May.

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For further information please see the European Obesity Day website, the European Association for the Study of Obesity; and the World Health Organisation page on obesity.
The text of the Written Declaration is available here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WDECL&reference=P8-DCL-2016-0037&format=PDF&language=EN

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