View of the Bridge

Can Europe Bridge the Gap in Obesity Research?

The European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) sees a big gap to bridge in obesity research. Earlier this year, the European Union defined obesity as a chronic, relapsing disease. But a gap remains in policies to actually reduce the impact of this disease. EASO President Jason Halford explained:

“The current EU research agenda does not equip policymakers to take evidence driven decisions to address obesity, which the commission has categorised as a chronic disease, while this kind of research is already in place for other NCDs like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.”

A More Robust Research Agenda

EASO consulted with the OECD and WHO’s European office and 30 other groups to formulate its recommendations. In sum, the goal is a more robust obesity research agenda. Because obesity leads to many other non-communicable diseases, research is essential. Gijs Goossens co-chairs the EASO Science Advisory Board. He explains:

“Obesity acts as a gateway disease to many chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and several types of cancer. Reducing the prevalence and severity of obesity will ultimately have a major impact on the quality of life of EU citizens and society at large. EASO welcomes the continued focus on addressing obesity within the EC’s Research Agenda.”

Action for Better Health Outcomes

Because of gaps in the research agenda, EASO found that current policies simply do not address obesity as an NCD. Instead, the approach is to bury it in “general policies that focus solely on lifestyle.”

EASO’s Executive Director Euan Woodward explains that this is ineffective:

“Obesity cannot be a compartmentalised problem. It requires the involvement of policy makers, government institutions, researchers, and patients to improve outcomes. The time has come for EU-level strategies prioritising obesity.”

Europe is making great strides in coming to terms with the health impact of obesity. But a gap remains. We are hopeful because the momentum suggests that further progress lies ahead.

Click here for further information and here for the EASO report. For more on gaps in medical care for obesity in Europe, click here.

View of the Bridge, painting by Aleksandra Ekster / WikiArt

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October 28, 2021