Policy Summaries | World Obesity Federation

Policy Summaries

The policies presented below were developed by governments, civil society organisations and other key stakeholders around the world. With your help, some of these policies have the potential to put the topic of obesity high on the political agenda. Given the need to develop policies with youth for youth, we are interested in hearing your views on these policies. Interested in learning more about these policies? Click on the links to access the full policy text. Let us know whether you approve or disapprove with their core concepts by voting on them!

EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014-2020

Childhood and adolescent obesity rates across the globe have been growing and Europe is no exception. The shifts in our diet towards more processed and higher in fat, sugar and salt foods along with a considerable decrease in our levels of physical activity all have a part to play. The European Commission has decided to respond to this through the Action Plan on Childhood Obesity, with the ambitious goal of halting the rise in overweight and obesity in children and young people by 2020. This will require the involvement of multiple stakeholders, including all 28 EU Member States, the European Commission and the active involvement from international organisations such as the World Health Organization. Between 2014 and 2020, the Action Plan has committed to address eight key areas for action:

  1. Support a healthy start in life;
  2. Promote healthier environments, especially in schools and pre-schools;
  3. Make the healthy option the easier option;
  4. Restrict marketing and advertising to children;
  5. Inform and empower families;
  6. Encourage physical activity;
  7. Monitor and evaluate;
  8. Increase research.

What do YOU think about these areas of action?


Click here to read the full policy. 

Using price policies to promote healthier diets

Did you know that the World Health Organization European Region is one of the most severely affected by non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes? The most well-known risk factors that lead to the development of non-communicable diseases include excess body weight, a high consumption of fats, trans fats, sugar and salt and a low consumption of fruits and vegetables.

People’s environments play a key role in the development of dietary behaviour and has a direct impact on their food choices. Research in recent years has shown that the price of food has the ability, to a certain extent, to influence what and how much food people buy. The use of price policies targeting different food categories is therefore increasingly recognised to be a key policy tool. What do you think? Should we use price policies to help regulate people’s food intake? 


Click here to read the full policy.

Soft drink taxes

As highlighted by the World Health Organization, free sugars have been associated with increased levels of obesity and non-communicable diseases. The most up-to-date guidelines recommend a daily sugar consumption of less than 10% of daily total energy intake and even suggests this to be reduced to less than 5% per day. The implementation of sugar taxes is seen as an important fiscal tool to promote health. Specifically, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) have been identified as a good target for a tax given that they have no nutritional value and contribute to large amount of sugar to the diets of populations globally, especially children.

SSB taxes can be seen to have two objectives: raise revenue and change consumption. However, a number of for- and against-arguments have been arising:

  • Against SSB taxes: many consider that taxes would disproportionately affect the minorities who can least afford it as well as the impression that the implementation of a tax would give governments’ too much intrusion in one’s personal life.
  • In favour of SSB taxes: evidence shows that the implementation of SSB taxes would in fact reduce health inequities and that it is governments’ responsibility to be a “protector of public health.”

What is your opinion regarding the implementation of a soft drink tax? Do you think it could be a good tool to reduce the rising rates of overweight and obesity?


Click here to read the full policy.

Guide to creating a front-of-pack (FoP) nutrition label for pre-packed products sold through retail outlets (UK based)

In the UK, while the “back of pack” nutrition declaration is mandatory to inform about the energy, fat, saturates, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt of different food products, front-of-pack labelling remains voluntary. However, evidence shows that the consistent use of front-of-pack labelling might help consumers make better food choices and encourage a more balanced diet. The front-of-pack labelling process is fairly simple: “the colour coded (red, amber and green) labels on the front of the pack show you at a glance if the food you are thinking about buying has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt, helping you achieve a more balanced diet.”

What is your opinion on front-of-pack labelling? Do you think it would be a good policy idea? 


Click here to read the full policy. 

Set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children

In recent decades, increasing attention has been brought to the urgency to address non-communicable diseases. Today, we live in an environment in which individuals, and especially children, are constantly targeted with marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt. Given the fast-evolving global landscape, there is a need to rethink the existing marketing regulations and recommendations. Consequently, the World Health Organization has developed these recommendations to help reframe and develop new policies on food marketing to children:

  1. The policy aim should be to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt.
  2. The overall policy objective should be to reduce both the exposure of children to, and power of, marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.
  3. To achieve the policy, aim and objective, Member States should consider different approaches.
  4. Governments should set clear definitions for the key components of the policy, thereby allowing for a standard implementation process.
  5. Settings where children gather should be free from all forms of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.
  6. Governments should be the key stakeholders in the development of policy and provide leadership, through a multi-stakeholder platform for implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
  7. Considering resources, benefits and burdens of all stakeholders involved, Member States should consider the most effective approach to reduce marketing to children of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.
  8. Member States should cooperate to put in place the means necessary to reduce the impact of cross-border marketing (in-flowing and out-flowing) of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt to children in order to achieve the highest possible impact of any national policy.
  9. The policy framework should specify enforcement mechanisms and establish systems for their implementation.
  10. All policy frameworks should include a monitoring system to ensure compliance with the objectives set out in the national policy using clearly defined indicators.
  11. The policy frameworks should also include a system to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the policy on the overall aim, using clearly defined indicators.
  12. Member States are encouraged to identify existing information on the extent, nature and effects of food marketing to children in their country.


Click here to read the full policy. 

EU Regulation No. 1169/2011 on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers (2011)

Introduced on 13 December 2014, regulation No. 1169/2011 combines two existing directives into one Regulation: (i) labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs and (ii) nutrition labelling for foodstuffs. Some of the most significant changes to the Regulation include:  

  • Better legibility and harmonisation of information 
  • The required presentation of certain nutrition criteria  
  • Increased regulations to avoid misleading practices  

Do you think the previous Directives were successful, and is the new Regulation comprehensive enough?  

Click here to read the full Regulation. 

The EU School Fruit, Vegetables and Milk Scheme (2017; Portugal)

The aim of the scheme is to increase the consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and milk across the European Union. Implemented since 1 August 2017, the scheme supports “the distribution of products, educational measures and information measures.” By distributing a list of selected products to children from nursery to secondary schools, the scheme aims to help children follow a healthy diet. In addition, it is supported by the implementation of some educational measures such as lessons to help get a better understanding of our agricultural systems, implementing school gardens, cooking classes and much more. These activities are not only targeted towards children but may also in many cases involve the teachers and parents.  

In Portugal, the scheme aims to address the following: 

  • Reverse the current childhood and adolescent's obesity rates across the country 
  • Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as milk/milk products among Portuguese children to reach almost recommended daily quantities  
  • Change children’s habits and dietary patterns  
  • To change the availability of certain foods  

Do you think the scheme could successfully address the different challenges identified by the Portuguese government?  

Click here to read the full Portuguese scheme.  

The Portuguese Pledge, modelled after the EU Pledge (2010)

The EU Pledge is a voluntary initiative launched by leading food and beverage companies to change food and beverage advertising on TV, print and internet to children under the age of twelve in the European Union. Based on the EU Pledge, the Portuguese Pledge is an initiative that results from the mobilisation and involvement of the food sector by the Portuguese Association of Advertisers (APAN) and the Federation of Portuguese Agro-Food Industries (FIPA). 39 national companies across Portugal have signed a set of common action commitments that will guide their activity in the future. The Portuguese Pledge includes three key commitments areas:  

  1. Marketing and advertising self-regulations are enhanced and adopted by more associations  
  2. Reformulation and information 
  3. Associations to show their involvement in an integrated national strategy to promote healthy lifestyles 

Do you think the Portuguese Pledge is an effective initiative to regulate the marketing of products towards children? 

Click here to learn more about the Portuguese Pledge.  

The Front of Pack Nutrition Labelling Scheme (2013, UK)

This guidance supports the development of front of pack nutrition labels that are compliant with the UK Health Ministers’ recommendation on the use of colour coding as an additional form of expression and with EU Regulation No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. The guidance was developed by the Department of Health, the Food Standards Agency, and delegated administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in collaboration with the British Retail Consortium.  

While front-of-pack labelling remains voluntary in the UK, it must be provided in addition to the full mandatory nutrition declaration, also known as “back of pack”. The “back of pack” declaration includes information regarding the energy, fat, saturates, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt content of a product. In-line with this guidance document, front-of-pack labelling in the UK should include: 

  • Information on the energy value per 100g/ml and in a specific portion of the product 
  • Information on the amounts in grams of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt, in a specified portion of the product 
  • Portion size information in a way that is understandable for the consumer  
  • Percentage reference intake based on the amount of each nutrient and energy value in a portion of the food  
  • Colour coding of the nutrient content of the food  

Do you pay close attention to front-of-pack labelling and do you think the UK model is effective?  

Click here to read the full guidance.  

The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (2004, UK)

The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme is a government-funded initiative that ensures all children between the ages of 4 and 6 attending a state-funded school have access to a daily portion of fresh fruit or vegetable. Launched in 2000 and part of the national 5 A DAY programme, it now reaches approximately 16,600 schools across England. Do you think this government-funded programme is successful?  

Click here to read more about the scheme. 

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