February 9, 2015
In my work I am seeing several press statements on a daily basis, mainly from the European institutions and from ‘stakeholders’ like NGOs and lobby organisations. There seems to be a pattern in the language they are using in these press releases – language that is very typical for the EU Bubble.
So I am now publishing the following press release, that is available for immediate distribution.
EU can unlock the potential of obese citizens
Up to 5.34% GDP growth to be expected by 2020 if number of horizontally challenged subjects are reduced considerably
BRUSSELS – 9 February 2015
The European Commission is launching its fourth Action Plan on the reduction of obese citizens in the European Union. This Action Plan includes a revision of the current Directive on Obesity, Overweight and Weight Reduction Schemes (COP-2006-21580), as well as the introduction of a Working Group, a Launch Platform and a Citizens’ Dialogue Programme.
Obesity is a big problem for Europe’s society. Of the 500 million citizens, over 80 million are horizontally challenged. They are facing a difficult life with health and social problems, depression and sometimes even suicide. The Commission now wants to tackle this situation proactively and unleash the potential of these overweight citizens, as Europe is at crossroads. The current economic crisis and ongoing legitimacy debate of the European institutions requires innovative, out-of-the box thinking in order to make progress and raise awareness.
Independent research (paid for by the Commission including giving a list of pre-defined questions and suggestions for desired answers), reveals that if the average BMI of obese Europeans is reduced from 40 to 25, the effects on Europe’s economy and society can be dramatic. By 2020, an extra GDP growth of 5.34% can be expected, or over €5200 extra income per household. In total Europe’s economy could grow by €530 billion a year if we manage to shrink the weight of the population with 3 billion kilos of fat.
The most important effects, according to the independent research bureau FPEOIWB, are that slim people have a higher productivity per capita than horizontally challenged people. They also take up less space in public transport, do not block escalators, go less to the doctor and take less anti-depressants, thereby unburdening the national welfare state. Obese citizens tend to be less active in social life, and a higher participation rate in for instance political circles will lead to a speedier reform of national economies, thereby boosting competitiveness.
Konstantinas Konstantinapolous, the Commissioner for the Reduction of Obesity, European Food Programmes and Exercise Circuits, said: “With the ongoing European economic crisis and the increasing divisions in Europe’s society, we have the task to address the issue now, with an ambitious reform that will tap into the potential. I call upon the other institutions and the relevant stakeholders to quickly adopt our Package.”
“I do realise that reducing fat levels is a national competence of the Member States, but given the serious situation, there is a pressing need for European action in this matter. We urgently need to create a level playing field, exchange best practices and increase peer pressure.”
For more information, visit the European Commission’s website or follow the debate on Twitter #EUAgainstObesity
Reality is always better
If you think this is funny (and a bit tragic), wait until you read the Strategy on nutrition, overweight and obesity-related health issues that the Commission published in 2007. I actually stumbled upon this strategy as I googled “Obesity European Union”, after having written the fake press release.
I now realise I could have put more effort into the creative writing process. First line of the official strategy: “The Commission established a coherent and comprehensive Community Strategy to address the issues of overweight and obesity, by adopting the White Paper.” The Strategy includes policies that “are being marshalled towards the purpose of improving nutrition and preventing overweight and obesity.” This is necessary because action until now used to be “spontaneous and unilateral“, leading to a situation that “has often deprived other potential partners of participation and validation of opportunities.”
The Commission wanted “action-oriented partnerships across the EU, involving key stakeholders.” It also planned “to strengthen monitoring and reporting of the situation.” And yes, there was a true need for European policies in the fight against obesity. The Strategy “moreover underlines the central role of the Commission in facilitating partnerships and taking the lead in establishing a common framework for action.”
I conclude: Since the adoption of the White Paper, the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity has been set up. You can check the link for yourself; I won’t.
Author : Joop Hazenberg