European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

Commission presents Eurobarometer on Health, Food and Nutrition

Most Europeans consider themselves to be in good health, but 38% feel they are overweight, according to the results of the latest Eurobarometer on Health, Food and Nutrition presented by the European Commission today. The survey, which reveals that 95% of EU citizens agree that obesity is harmful for health, addresses the health and physical characteristics of Europeans, their diet and general eating habits, problems related to being overweight, and their physical activity levels. Eating more vegetables and less fat are the most frequent changes that Europeans say they are introducing in their eating habits. However, most respondents report feeling trapped in a sedentary life that restricts their attempts to lead a healthy lifestyle. Less than 30% of Europeans carry out “intensive” physical activity on a regular basis. Most Europeans (85%) feel public authorities should play a stronger role in fighting obesity. Nine out of ten Europeans feel that marketing and advertising influence children in their food and drink choices.

EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: “This survey provides us with valuable insights into the concerns of EU citizens on health and nutrition. EU citizens are aware there is a problem with overweight and obesity in Europe, and that much depends on their willingness to address it and change their lifestyle. At the same time, they also support a strong role for public authorities, including EU institutions, in devising a consistent policy to tackle obesity across Europe. The Commission is planning to respond to this call by developing proposals for a European strategy on the issue next year.”

Weight matters

55% of Europeans think that their weight is about right. 38% of Europeans think that their weight is too high. And more women (44%) than men (32%) consider that they are overweight. Most Europeans believe that “healthy eating” means eating a “balanced and varied diet”, but also eating more fruit and vegetables. The lifestyle of EU citizens, in particular a lack of time, appears to be the main obstacle to healthy eating.

At European level, approximately one in five respondents declared that he or she had dieted over the last 12 months. Women are more likely than men to have dieted or changed their eating habits. Losing weight and staying healthy are the main reasons given by respondents for this. 83% of respondents agree that childhood obesity has increased over the last 5 years. Nine out of ten respondents consider that food advertising and promotion influences children in their food and drink choices.

Stand up and run

Respondents declared that they spend on average just over six hours a day sitting during a normal day. 51% declared that they have performed some physical activity at work. This of course concerns in particular manual workers. Although almost 90% of respondents declared that they had performed some physical activity over the last 7 days by moving from place to place, only 22% reported that they had performed a lot of physical activity. Almost 90% of EU citizens declared that they had performed some physical activity outdoors over the last 7 days, but only 27% described their activity as intensive. Few Europeans play sport or participate in recreational or leisure activities in an intensive way.