EU platform for action on diet, physical activity and health

04 April 2006

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About the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

DG SANCO of the European Commission officially launched the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health in March 2005. The creation of the Platform, which EUFIC is pleased to support in its capacity as a dissemination partner, is part of an overall strategy on nutrition and physical activity being developed by the European Commission and followed several months of discussions between the institution and the various stakeholders about how to address the obesity epidemic in Europe.

Rates of obesity, particularly among children, have risen acr ss the EU and health experts have expressed concern about the consequences of this trend. Stakeholders agreed that promoting healthier diets and more physical activity among Europeans is the key to tackling this problem. To this end, the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health was created, comprising Platform members who are committed to take action and to devote more resources to fight obesity through healthy diets and physical activity, to pool Europe’s knowledge on what works – and what does not – and to disseminate best practice across the European Union.

The EU has an important role to play in all this via its food safety, public health, education, internal market and agricultural policies. By bringing together the key stakeholders at EU level, the Platform aims to pool their expertise and catalyse Europe-wide action across a range of sectors. Organising a Platform at EU-level enables the European Commission to pool the best expertise and the best knowledge Europe has to offer. The EU Platform should also act as a forum where good practice from one country can rapidly be disseminated and replicated across the continent. All Platform members have agreed to devote an increasing level of resources and effort either to extended existing initiatives or launching new actions designed to reverse the obesity trend. The five fields for action identified so far by the Platform members are:

  • Consumer information, including labelling
  • Education, including lifestyle modification
  • Physical activity promotion
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Composition of foods (reformultation), availability of healthy food options, portion sizes
  • Advocacy, information exchange

Following the launch of the Platform, members drew up an inventory describing what it is they are currently doing to promote healthy diets and physical activity. This information will be used as a benchmark for monitoring future initiatives.

The members have subsequently drawn up action plans for 2006, the key principle being, that the plan must go beyond what is already being done. They key test for the Platform will be whether the action plans proposed by its members catalyse significant new activity in the fight against obesity. Therefore, by the end of 2006 the European Commission should be in a position to judge whether the Platform is producing real results.

The Commission has made clear to Platform members that what it expects from them is a step change – i.e. a significant increase – in the effort they devote to fighting obesity. Minor increases in activity or a few token initiatives will not be sufficient. It is quite possible however, that the Platform will catalyse the launch of some new activities, or greater investment in existing initiatives.
The Platform is an experiment in working with business and civil society to produce results in a more rapid and flexible way. However, if the experiment does not work the Commission still has the traditional tools of public policy, such as regulation, at its disposal.

Click here to access the Platform's 5 year evaluation report, 12 July 2010

For more information on the Platform for Action go to:

http://ec.europa.eu/health/nutrition_physical_activity/platform/index_en.htm