Turning the tide on obesity and unhealthy diets in the WHO European Region – new publication presents novel insights and effective solutions

Public Health Panorama, WHO/Europe’s public health journal, has dedicated its latest issue to obesity and unhealthy diets in the Region. With unhealthy diets now responsible for 1 in 5 deaths globally, and with the Region at the midway point of implementing the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020, this special issue is a timely source of lessons learned and new research on the subject.

The issue, “Turning the tide on obesity and unhealthy diets”, gives a snapshot of the current challenges governments face in making policies for improving public health. It examines the rapid increase in overweight and obesity among children and adolescents, and the need for transforming both service delivery and the scope of practice of health professionals.

The publication also provides concrete and effective solutions that have been implemented in all corners of the Region. It presents lessons learned on topics such as taxation on sugary drinks; clear, consumer-friendly front-of-package labelling; marketing restrictions on the promotion of fatty, salty and sugary foods to children; school food policies; and public procurement.

The value of surveillance, monitoring and evaluation as tools to inform and assess the impact of actions emerges strongly from the wide range of articles.

The overall publication illustrates the enormous progress made in terms of the evidence available and our understanding of effective policies and interventions. It also highlights the need for implementation in the Region, where the latest data show that unhealthy diets are the leading risk factor undermining health and well-being.

In the words of Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, the articles “should galvanize us to be more ambitious in our collective efforts to build a healthier Europe”.

This is all the more relevant both regionally and globally as, for the first time, the Sustainable Development Goals commit governments to address all forms of malnutrition and prevent avoidable premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases.

About Public Health Panorama

Public Health Panorama is the journal of WHO/Europe. It provides a platform to scientists and public health practitioners for the publication of lessons learned from the field, as well as original research work, to facilitate the use of evidence and good practice for public health action.