obesity

Last 18 May was European Obesity Day (EOD). For me, this was a day to reflect, learn and discuss with patients, healthcare professionals and policymakers possible solutions to tackle the obesity epidemic in Europe. As the most recent OECD report outlines, obesity has become a global and European epidemic with gloomy predictions for the future, which places a huge load on healthcare systems. High morbidity and mortality and decreased quality of life make it one of the most serious global healthcare challenges. Recent data shows that its economic burden in the European Union (EU) only is €60 billion annually in healthcare costs and lost productivity. The European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), the scientific group leading the organisation of EOD, estimated direct obesity-related costs ranging from 1.5–4.6% of health expenditure in France to around 7% in Spain. These shocking figures were presented at the EASO Policy Conference , which took place in Brussels on 16 May and which this year focused on “The Social and Economic Impact of Preventing and Treating Obesity”. Policymakers and the healthcare community discussed current and future options and heard from patients and doctors what needs to change to tackle this health, social and economic problem. The first interventions provided for a review of current initiatives to improve prevention, e.g. information and education on healthy lifestyles, food label, fiscal measures, enabling environment allowing healthy options, regulation (for instance on advertising, food reformulation); employment and workplace, school access. But I am wondering what has been so far the impact of these measures? Hearing the OECD, WHO, European Commission presentations, I am afraid these measures have not entirely met their goals. I could not agree more with one of the key takeaways from the conference: obesity is a system problem. There is no single intervention but...