As ministers from all over the world meet in Geneva to debate a joint World Health Organisation (WHO)/UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) global strategy on diet, physical activity and health, the European Commission has called on Europe to “take on obesity”.

Welcoming the WHO/FAO strategy as a driving force in the fight against expanding waistlines, the EU’s health and consumer protection commissioner David Byrne warned that “obesity may be to the 21st century what smoking was to the 20th century”.

The Commission said the EU’s Public Health Programme has created a network bringing together experts on diet and physical activity EU-wide and is working to identify best practice in obesity prevention.

The European Commission has also proposed a new EU law on health and nutritional claims on food to improve the quality of information given to consumers.

“The WHO/FAO strategy is a call to arms. Unhealthy, unbalanced diets and sedentary lifestyles are creating a time bomb for the future. Left unchecked, rising obesity will shorten life spans and drain public resources in the future,” said Byrne.

“About 20-30% of Europeans are overweight or obese. If current trends continue, it may not be long before a majority of Europeans are classed as overweight. Governments, the food industry, NGOs and consumers need to work together to shape a healthier future,” he added.

For further information on the EU’s Public Health policies, click here.

For information on the proposal for a regulation on health and nutritional claims, click here.