The European Union (EU) Presidency conference entitled “Nutrition and Physical Activity from Childhood to Old Age: Challenges and Opportunities” held 25-26 February 2014, in Athens, Greece, was a good example of the support and cooperation between the EU and WHO/Europe. The new “EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014-2020” was adopted at a high level meeting preceding the conference, and demonstrated the synergies connecting the work of the 2 organizations.
The Action Plan and the EU Council recommendations on sport and physical activity of 2013 are in line with WHO political frameworks and the priority actions of the “Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020” and will use the WHO monitoring tools and surveillance mechanisms for evaluating implementation and gauging success.
WHO and the EU have been working together on a number of key products:
- Joint WHO/European Commission project to monitor progress in improving nutrition and physical activity and preventing obesity in the EU (WHO European Database on Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity (NOPA) information system):
- WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI);
- Health-enhancing physical activity promotion in the EU – a joint collaboration WHO/DG-EAC.
Launch of country profiles
The WHO/Europe “Country profiles on nutrition, physical activity and obesity in the 53 WHO European Region Member States” produced with support from the EU were launched, and supported the central conference theme of a focus on childhood obesity. The profiles provide an overview of country data on a selected list of monitoring and surveillance indicators including overweight and obesity for adults, adolescents and children, exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life, saturated fat intake, fruit and vegetable supply, salt intake, iodine status and physical inactivity.
In the context of Greek public health, childhood obesity emerges as one of the priorities. The conference had participation from international experts and was opened by the Greek Minister of Health and Social Solidarity, Mr Adonis Georgiadis, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports, Mr John Adrianos, and the EU Deputy Director General, Mr Martin Seychell. A panel of ministers discussed the challenges and opportunities for improving nutrition and physical activity in Europe.