Wednesday, September 7, 2005
EESC’s diet for Europe: fighting against obesity
In the presence of Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer protection, the specialised section for employment, social affairs and citizenship has adopted its own-initiative opinion on obesity in Europe. The opinion, drawn up by Ms Madi Sharma, deals with the growing number of obese people and notably children in Europe and proposes concrete measures, for example the “obesity check campaign”. The opinion will be followed by a best practice document. M. Kyprianou congratulated Ms Sharma for her opinion. The Commission counts on the help of the Committee, notably in the obesity platform.
“More than 14 million children are overweight in Europe, including 3 million obese. But even more worrying: this number rises by 400.000 each year,” Ms Sharma explained during the presentation of her own-initiative report. Furthermore, the economic and social costs of this plague are “no laughing matter” but a serious problem, with rising health costs and the premature death of many obese people.
Ms Sharma called for a collective effort of all stakeholders, industry and member states, but - above all – individuals, that have to change their habits: “We have to stop the blame game and start working together”. Ms Sharma explained that the Committee has to be at the front of the fight against obesity. Numerous EESC members and the secretariat have already committed themselves to join in. She has set a personal example: During the work on the report, Ms Sharma has lost 10 kilos herself, by eliminating a number of unhealthy foodstuffs and by starting to do more exercise.
Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer protection, thanked Ms Sharma for her engagement in the Commission’s platform on obesity and for her valuable contribution. He called for a “cultural change, a change of lifestyle”, but a continuous effort will be necessary to bring about that change. The Commission is counting on the Committee to help promote that change.
“Obesity check” campaign
The opinion calls for an “obesity check”: a campaign designed to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the responsibility of all parties in preventing obesity. The campaign should focus on the education process across the population, reach every European citizen and bring together individuals and organisations alike to commit some of their spare time to the fight against obesity, creating a momentum on all levels, from enterprises and governments down to the individual.
Ms Sharma is drawing up a best practice document that will accompany her opinion, and will be widely distributed by the EESC. Ms Sharma is happy to receive further contributions for best-practice examples in fighting obesity (contact: Madi Sharma).
The opinion will be debated in the EESC 28/29 September plenary session.
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