Measures to reduce child obesity

EESC opinion: Measures to reduce child obesity

Key points


  • reiterates that health is a fundamental right and observes that childhood overweight and obesity continue to be among the biggest public health challenges currently facing EU countries, and that it is associated with physical, mental and social health problems in childhood and adulthood.
  • observes there is no single cause of obesity; rather, it results from the complex interaction of various factors. These include factors related to the individual (biological/genetic, physiological and lifestyle factors), environmental factors (the influence of the different environments in which the individual grows up: family, school, community), psychosocial factors (level of education and social class), and economic factors (household income level).
  • is committed to an overarching approach to obesity and proposes policy recommendations and actions in several domains:  macro-social environment; family environment; educational environment; leisure spaces and designing healthy urban environments; digital and audio-visual environment; and healthy environment 
  • highlights the need to reduce socio-economic inequalities because they are directly linked to excess weight in children. In some cases, the percentage of children and adolescents with obesity doubles in lower-income households.
  • is concerned that most national restrictions on promoting and advertising food and non-alcoholic beverages to children are too weak and existing voluntary approaches are not enough to protect children and adolescents
  • notes that Member States have different approaches on how to address childhood obesity (in relation to various aspects, such as communication, nutrition labelling, promotion of physical exercise and sustainable diets, and newer aspects such as healthy use of screens and promotion of mental and emotional health) 
  • urges the European Commission and the European Parliament to play a more proactive role in this area and to make progress towards more standardisation and a more effective framework; and calls for the 2014-2020 EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity to be renewed, taking into account the proposals set out in this opinion.