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EU calls for obesity crackdown

Published on 20/01/2005

20 January 2005

BRUSSELS – The EU has threatened new laws to crack down on advertising junk food to children if the food industry does not tighten its rules.

Markos Kyprianou, EU health commissioner, has given the industry a one year ultimatum to clean up its act and improve product labelling.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Kyprianou warned that urgent action was needed to tackle Europe’s obesity problem, particularly among young people.

The Commissioner said that although self-regulation was the best way to tackle the problem, Brussels would resort to legislation if there was a lack of progress.

“The signs from the industry are very encouraging, very positive. But if this doesn’t produce satisfactory results, we will proceed to legislation.”

The Commission could initiate legislation using EU single market rules or on consumer protection grounds.

This was used most recently in a ban on tobacco advertising.

Brussels is planning a series of initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles along with national governments, the food industry and health bodies.

According to Kyprianou, Europe has always “considered obesity to be a US problem…we made fun of Americans in a way. It is a European problem now.”

Recent figures show that obesity is a bigger problem in Southern Europe than
in the north.

Currently 36 percent of nine year olds in Italy are considered obese.

The CIAA, an umbrella group representing the food industry in Europe, said it was working already with the Commission to improve advertising and labelling rules.

‘There is a need for improvement but there is no magical solution for doing this in practical terms,” it said in a statement.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news