A group of civil society organisations have announced their intention to leave the EU Platform for Diet, Physical Activity and Health.
The platform was first launched in 2005 as part of the European Commission’s efforts to address the obesity epidemic in Europe. Its members are committed to tackling obesity through healthy diets and physical activity.
“By bringing together the key stakeholders at EU level, the Platform aims to pool their expertise and catalyse Europe-wide action across a range of sectors,” stated the European Food Information Council (EUFIC)
“All platform members have agreed to devote an increasing level of resources and efforts either to extended existing initiatives of launching new actions designed to reverse the obesity trend.”
Unfit to combat obesity?
However, in a statement published today (3 July), representatives from seven organisations said they were dissatisfied with the platform’s approach to combating obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Signatories include the European Consumer Organization (BEUC), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the European Heart Network (EHN), World Obesity, COFACE Families Europe, and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN).
“One in two adults in Europe is now overweight or obese. Poor diets and a lack of physical activity are contributing significantly to this threat to the population’s health and to the growing burden of NCDs,” wrote the representatives.
“It is increasingly clear to our organisations that the platform, as it is currently constructed, is not fit for purpose and cannot therefore adequately contribute to reverse this tide.”
The statement also draws attention to a “continual decrease in resources, time and attention” contributed to the platform, suggesting “an acknowledgement of the limited impact that this forum, and the voluntary approach it embodies, can have”.
Internal review underway
The organisations’ departure comes after the same representatives wrote to the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety in April. At that time, they called for an “urgent, profound and meaningful overhaul” to boost the platform’s outcomes.
A meeting was requested to facilitate “constructive dialogue”, but was left unacknowledged by the Commission.
According to BEUC, the European Commission says an internal review of the platform is underway.
While the civil society group no longer wishes to participate in the current platform, they highlighted the “right and importance for continued structured dialogue with organisations representing the voices of consumers, public health NGOs and medical associations” on future EU actions regarding obesity and NCDs.