UN health charter targets obesity in Europe with less fat, more action and curbed ads



UNITED NATIONS (17 November 2006) - Healthier diets, more physical activity and protection from commercial influence are high on the menu to reduce obesity throughout Europe, especially among children, under a charter adopted at a three-day United Nations health meeting currently underway in Istanbul.

"We are all aware that obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges facing Europe today," UN World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director Marc Danzon said.

"Evidence exists on what needs to be done to reverse the trend. This Charter commits Member States to put obesity high on their political agendas and calls on all partners and stakeholders to do the same. It is a guide, an opportunity, and gives us the tools to take effective action," he added.

The European Charter on Counteracting Obesity, signed yesterday by Dr. Danzon and Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag on behalf of all of Member States of the WHO European Region, sets the ultimate goal of curbing the epidemic and reversing the current trend.

"Visible progress, especially relating to children and adolescents, should be achievable in most countries in the next 4-5 years and it should be possible to reverse the trend by 2015 at the latest," the Charter declares, calling for action to encourage children to establish healthy habits early in life and steps to protect them from commercial influence.

Recommended steps include the adoption of regulations to substantially reduce the extent and impact of commercial promotion of energy-dense food and beverages, particularly to children, with the development of international approaches, such as a code on marketing to children in this area.

The Charter also calls for the adoption of regulations for safer roads to promote cycling and walking and establishing opportunities for daily physical activity and for good nutrition and physical education in schools. Other key actions include promoting breastfeeding and reducing the amount of fat, sugar and salt in manufactured products.

The Charter was developed through an open consultation process, driven by Member States and involving different government sectors, international organizations, experts, civil society and the private sector.




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