The regulation of food advertising and obesity prevention: what role for the European Union?
University of Exeter
European University Institute
Since 1998, the World Health Organisation has recognised obesity as a problem of epidemic proportions. As none of the EU Member States is spared, the European Commission has recently published a Green Paper aimed at gathering evidence on how it could develop an obesity prevention strategy at European level. It is therefore the right moment to reflect on the principles which should guide EU policy in this field. This paper concentrates on one particular aspect of obesity prevention, namely the role that the European Union can play to curb the epidemic by regulating how food is marketed to consumers. That is not to say that the regulation of food advertising will, on its own, solve this public health issue. Obesity being by definition a multifactorial disease, the concerted action of all stakeholders is crucial to the successful outcome of the strategy which the Commission will choose to adopt.