Meeting of Nutrition National Focal Points

Nutrition focal points from 45 European Member States attended a meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel to advance the agenda of nutrition and health in European Region. The DG SANCO representative vouched for strong commitment from EU on the shared objective and vision to reduce overweight and obesity.

The meeting had three key aims:

  • to discuss the development of a new generation of nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention policies in Europe, which could be the basis of the third Food and Nutrition Action Plan for the WHO European Region
  • to discuss and review the progress by the 53 WHO European Member States in improving nutrition and physical activity, implementing policy actions and preventing obesity within the framework of the European Charter on Counteracting Obesity as well as of the Food and Nutrition Policy Action Plan 2007-2012
  • to discuss capacity building on surveillance, monitoring and policy development in nutrition, physical activity and obesity through lectures and working group sessions. This is linked to Health 2020 and a contribution to the Action Plan for the Implementation of the European Strategy for the prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD).

Specific discussion topics addressed throughout the meeting included:

  • salt
  • marketing of food to children
  • “trans” fatty acids
  • active transport,
  • integration of nutrition care within the health system
  • micronutrient deficiencies
  • breastfeeding
  • chronic malnutrition

Country experiences

Countries presented and shared experiences on different approaches to working with the key issues, for example regarding multisectoral work across government, working with ownership by several ministries, experiences of working with industry, developing food and action plans at national level and implementing them successfully, developing policies from a strong evidence base, addressing the particular environments where people live, work and play and linking to other policy agendas.

Denmark and Hungary shared experiences regarding the challenges of implementing a food taxes. The market, administrative and political challenges demonstrated the need to carefully consider the effects of taxation and how to control for these effects.

Discussions demonstrated the need for a clear definition of unhealthy foods and the challenges of connecting the many good datasets available at country level. Dealing with the double burden of malnutrition and the national characteristics that make it difficult to have a one size fits all approach are an additional challenge.

Upcoming Ministerial Conference in Vienna

The WHO European Ministerial Conference on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the context of Health 2020 was announced to participants. The conference will take place 4 – 5 July 2013 in Vienna, Austria and underscores the substantial links between NCD and nutrition and the strong mandate for action.