EASO (European Association for the Study of Obesity) warmly welcomes the European Commission’s Strategic Foresight Report “Charting the course towards a more resilient Europe” with the related implementation process. We commend the Commission’s approach of strengthening the Mission-driven approach to addressing major societal and health challenges facing our Union in the coming time in this way.
Pivotally, EASO is greatly encouraged by the acknowledgment of the Commission of obesity as a chronic disease (NCD) and a priority in the coming time alongside and on a par with cancer:
“COVID-19 has shifted attention away from major health challenges like non-communicable diseases, notably cancer and obesity.”
However, we are acutely aware that much more remains to be done. To date, obesity has been consistently approached as a “lifestyle” choice. Its placement in this new text, rightly recognised as a non-communicable disease, is a major step towards implementing the correct language, framing, and narrative of obesity primary, secondary and tertiary prevention as well as its treatment, and long-term management along the life course. This is an important milestone in aligning policies with the science of obesity and chronic diseases as outlined in the EASO Policy Position Paper “Obesity in Europe in the context of Covid-19: strategies for the “new reality” and resilient health systems
As emphasised in Foresight Report, in order for Europe to become more responsive and resilient to future health threats, vulnerabilities need to be addressed. Addressing obesity through a narrow lens of primary prevention and promotion can only go so far. COVID-19 has shone a light on a neglected public health disaster: that of the 51% (Eurostat 2014) and growing people currently living with pre-obesity or obesity in Europe are not accessing the treatment and management that they need, leading to an unnecessary higher death toll for COVID-19 amongst this population. Europe must equip our healthcare systems at regional and national level to better address the full continuum of obesity. Establishing multidisciplinary obesity centres and ensuring access to transdisciplinary care for people with obesity is a key focus area.
The European Commission’s recognition of people living with obesity as a medically vulnerable group, and now listed as a non-communicable disease, allows us to emphasise the importance of viewing obesity in the right frame – as a chronic, relapsing disease – and start implementing appropriate changes to improve the lives of millions of people across the EU.
EASO and the European obesity community stands ready to support this new direction in policy and practice.
For further insights, please do not hesitate to contact:
Jacqueline Bowman-Busato | [email protected] (EU Policy Lead) | Mobile: +32 468 222 386
About EASO www.easo.org | @EASOobesity
Established in 1986, EASO is a federation of professional membership associations from 36 countries, with a network of over 130 specialist Collaborating Centres for Obesity Management across the region. EASO’s mission is to reduce the burden of unhealthy weight, and it promotes action through collaboration in research, education and policy. EASO is in official relations with the WHO Regional Office for Europe, and represents scientists, health care practitioners, physicians, public health experts and patients.