EUROPE IS TAKING OBESITY HARD, VERY HARD…THEY WANT TO BLAME IT ON AMERICA (FAST FOODS, PROCESSED FOODS, ETC..)…THE INDIVIDUAL EU COUNTRIES THEMSELVES SEE IT AS A PROBLEM IN “OTHER COUNTRIES”, NOT THEIRS…DENIAL IS A TOUGH THING, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE PROBLEM STAIRS BACK AT YOU IN THE MIRROR, EVERY DAY, ALL DAY…AND THE ITALIAN MINISTER’S SOLUTION (WITH COLORFUL SASH TO MAKE HIM LOOK IMPORTANT AND TAKE YOUR EYE OFF HIS EXPANDING BELLY)…BETTER FOOD LABELING…HOW ABOUT CHILD (AND BUBBA) SAFETY CAPS…FREE SOCIETIES ARE FREE TO CHOOSE…UNFORNTUNATE CONSEQUENCES RESULT FROM “CHOICES”…THAT’S WHY FOUR PACKS GIVES “REASONS”, NOT “CHOICE”, BECAUSE BUBBAS JUST MAKE THE “SAME MISTAKES”…
Obesity is becoming a plague in Europe. Nearly 27% of men and 38% of women are overweight or obese. With 22 million overweight children and a further 1.3 million seen by 2010, how can we reverse this trend? We asked Italian UEN member Alessandro Foglietta, parliament’s draftsman on nutrition, overweight and obesity-related health problems, for his thoughts ahead of a vote on the EU’s health white paper Thursday.
Obesity in the EU
Over 5 million obese children in the EU
300,000 new obese people a year
We think it is important to provide consumers with comprehensive information on labels, to let them choose between good, better and less good nutrition. We need better food labelling so we know what we are eating, including how many calories. I am thinking of very visible and colourful signs with information about calories and quality that would attract the interest of consumers and children. We suggest member states encourage quality and nutritional standards in school and kindergarten, providing, for instance, fresh fruit and vegetables in school vending machines.
How important is the parent’s role?
The role of parents is essential, children are very vulnerable, they don’t think about calories but taste. Parents must make them aware. As parents, it is not ok to let our children eat what they want just because it’s easy, less expensive or less problematic, that will have a huge negative impact in the long run. You have to remember that often the less you pay the worse you eat.
What about the more vulnerable in society?
We need to look after high-risk categories like, elderly people, those with reduced mobility, pregnant women and all those who are more fragile. For instance, as mayor of a little town in Italy, I got an agreement with a local gym to give a discount to the elderly to help motivate them to do sport. As the World Health Organisation says, 30 minutes walking a day it is very important for our health.
We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but at least we can provide some tips to combat this problem.