As obesity continues to rise alarmingly in Europe, MEP Tudor Ciuhodaru (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats – Romania) calls on the European Commission to reinforce health education in schools.
A recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on obesity shows that overweight and obesity now affect almost 60% of adults and a third of children in Europe. Although scientific knowledge on causes and consequences of obesity and overweight is growing, obesity numbers are also increasing every year. To cope with this serious public health challenge, MEP Tudor Ciuhodaru asks the European Commission to propose a new legislation making health education compulsory at schools. He explains to EURACTIV that “teaching health education in schools will limit [obesity] phenomenon by teaching how to ensure proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle”.
The importance of education to tackle obesity is a consensus among health experts. The WHO in its aforementioned report stressed that early prevention is crucial to reverse obesity and overweight current trends. Besides lack of education, poverty and inequalities also play a major role in the development of inappropriate lifestyle and eating behaviours. In a 2014 report, the WHO was already highlighting that obesity is socially patterned and that inequalities are rising among European children. This is supported by scientific studies, showing that children from lower socio-economic backgrounds will be more vulnerable to overweight and obesity as they grow up.
School education is a way to redress early life inequalities by providing every children access to information on nutrition. It raises awareness on obesity-related problems for children and their families and it can help them to adopt healthier diets.
SAFE welcomes MEP Ciuhodaru’s statement, having long promoted education on nutrition for children. With the Tackling Adolescent Obesity Project and the Sugar Project, SAFE notably developed trainings organised in schools to address nutrition fundamentals, physical activities, health risks related to unhealthy behaviours, etc. SAFE and its European partners published handbooks for students and for teachers, to disseminate broadly its educational content. Thanks to its European Social Fund+ operating grant, SAFE aims to pursue its food literacy activities at a larger scale through the Food4Inclusion project.