Minister Hyssälä: Obesity epidemic can be prevented
The Finnish efforts to reduce cardiovascular diseases are a good example of how cross-sectoral health policy can promote public health. Diseases of affluence, obesity in particular, are a new challenge that must be counteracted on a wide front, said Minister of Health and Social Services Liisa Hyssälä at the WHO Conference Counteracting Obesity in Istanbul, Turkey, on 16 November
Individuals themselves are not the only ones responsible for overweight but also the surrounding environment plays a part. According to Minister Hyssälä, the debate has so far focused on diet, while especially physical activity should also gain more attention. The present Western lifestyle does not guarantee everyone sufficient daily exercise. Obesity in children and adolescents is particularly concerning. Children’s entire living environment must bear its responsibility for the growing prevalence of childhood obesity.
The Finnish example shows that paying attention to the living environment can have positive effects on citizens’ behaviour. Health-enhancing living environment and society improve public health. All policies and administrative fields must take part in the cooperation to promote health. The media and the private sector play an increasingly significant role in reforming lifestyles and consumption.
The WHO conference, attended by all 52 member states of the European Region, draws attention toobesity as a public health concern and places its prevention also to the international political agenda. The Conference will adopt a European Charter on Counteracting Obesity.