EU food industry tackles rising obesity

January 26, 2005 in Nutrition Topics in the News

EU food industry tackles rising obesity

Europe's food and drink industry will soon sit down with consumers, health workers and EU regulators to agree ways to battle a rising trend of obesity, particularly in children.

A think-tank including members of the EU's agri-food industry will be set up in March to encourage companies to set their own targets to help fight obesity. Issues covered will include education, food composition, portion size, food labeling, advertising and the promotion of physical activity.

According to International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), the prevalence of obesity has risen by 10 to 40 percent in the majority of European countries in the past 10 years. The rise of obesity in children is particularly alarming, it says. According to IOTF Chairman Philip James, obesity took off in the 1980s and has been accelerating in the last five to 10 years. He noted that it look as if the rise has become exponential.

To address this issue, a bill to outlaw misleading food labels and force companies to stick to scientifically backed slogans is currently working its way through the EU's long legislative process. Vague claims about foods aiding weight loss would be removed from packaging, as would eye-catching labels glossing over a product's fat content.

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