Statement of support by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark for the European Charter on Counteracting Obesity

20 February 2007, Copenhagen, Denmark

Regional Director, distinguished guests, it is a great pleasure to say a few words to mark this important occasion   the launch of the European Charter on Counteracting Obesity.

As patron of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, part of my focus is to generate greater public awareness about how important physical activity and a balanced diet are to our health and well-being, and how vital these two factors are in tackling obesity. I have previously referred to my personal commitment to being physically active and eating a healthy varied diet, and in supporting my family to do the same.

The statistics on obesity, so often repeated, are becoming more alarming. Across the WHO European Region, twenty per cent of children are currently overweight, and if the epidemic progresses unchecked, it is projected that one in ten will be obese by 2010. It is now evident that obesity is a major health challenge in the Region, and that coordinated action is needed to address the problem.

The adoption of the European Charter on Counteracting Obesity, the first of its kind in this area, therefore comes at a critical time. I have followed the development of the Charter with interest, and admire the valuable work that has been done to accommodate the perspectives of so many different interest groups. Groups that have been brought together to address a common public health goal.

I would therefore like to recognise the contribution made by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in facilitating the development of the Charter, and congratulate those public health experts throughout the Region who have worked to make it a reality.

I believe that the Charter is an important milestone in addressing the challenge of obesity. And I hope that the action it produces will serve as a turning point to adapt the environment we live in and ultimately enable everyone in the WHO European Region to make healthier choices. I am aware of the efforts of the WHO Regional Office for Europe to promote and implement the Charter, and wish you and the Region’s Member States every success in achieving your goals.

Good luck and thank you.