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31.05.2007 / Obesity White Paper encourages the development of self-regulation
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On 30th May, the Commission presented its White Paper on 'A Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues’.
On 30th May, the Commission presented its White Paper on 'A Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues’. The White Paper follows from the Green Paper of December 2005 and the work of the EU Platform for action on diet, physical activity and health, convened since March 2005.
In 2005, the mood of policy makers was very much in favour of proposing advertising restrictions for food advertising, in particular directed at children. However, input from the advertising and media industries over the last two years have succeeded in convincing the Commission that self-regulatory models are more consumer-friendly and efficient that statutory instruments.
In spite of much pressure from consumer and health NGOs, who have always pushed for statutory measures on advertising, the White Paper shuns such an approach, and instead refers to the positive aspects of advertising self-regulation. It can be seen as a major victory for the advertising and media sector that a White Paper, drafted by DG Health and Consumer Protection and adopted by the Commission gives such encouragement to the development of advertising self-regulation.
However, the White Paper also states that the question of advertising and any link to obesity will be reviewed in 2010 and that if legislative measures may be considered then if industry has not shown it is also prepared to help reduce EU obesity levels.
Launching the White Paper, Health Commissioner, Markus Kyprianou said: “What consumers eat is up to them, but they should be able to make informed choices, and have a range of healthy options to choose from. That is why the Commission is reviewing the options for nutrition labelling, and calling on industry to advertise responsibly and reduce levels of salt, fats and sugar in food products…given the urgency of the matter, it is better to try with self-regulation at first and see, in 2010, if there's a need for legislation, offering industry these two and half years", "great incentive for industry to co-operate on the obesity problem".
However, Kyprianou also indicated that the EU still has limited powers to legislate in the field of health matters and that it would be up to Member States to decide whether to introduce legislation after 2010.
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