The environment we live in is often conducive to poor nutrition; similarly, strategic marketing of unhealthy foods makes it harder for consumers to make healthy choices.
Food retailers have definitely a role to play when it comes to responding to the obesity challenge and, among them, consumer co-operatives are certainly in a privileged position because of the special link they nurture with consumer-members and society at large. Consumer education and information are one of the strongholds of consumer co-operative action and, thus, a key asset when it comes to tackling the phenomenon.
Euro Coop members have indeed proven their commitment in this field with a large variety of actions carried out throughout the years. Good examples include the numerous in-store initiatives and communication campaigns to incentivize the consumption of fruits and vegetables, a critical aspect of a healthy lifestyle especially considering that less than 15% of European citizens consume at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day, as recommended by the WHO. From the Free Fruits for Kids Campaign of The Channel Islands Co-operative Society (UK) to the more recent support of the Co-operative Group (UK) to the national advertising campaign Veg Power in the UK, consumerco-operatives have committed to increasing awareness and making the ‘heathiest choice the easiest choice’.
Consumer co-operatives have also recurred to technologies to enable consumers achieving healthier and more sustainable diets. For example, Eroski proposed to their consumer-members the personalized program Ekilibria, while Coop Sweden, Coop Denmark and the S Group in Finland have invested in the creation of bespoken websites designed to help consumers meet their daily dietary needs by proposing healthy recipes and facilitating their online shopping. More recently, Coop Italy teamed up with major food producers to launch the ViviSmart project which is aimed to promote the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet to families and children.
When talking about obesity prevention, the education of children to pursue a balanced diet is paramount to tackle the issue. This is the reason why Euro Coop members have invested into school programmes, such as Escuela de Alimentación [School of Nutrition] and Sapere Coop, which offer schools structured activities and resources to teach kids the key principles of healthy lifestyles, responsible consumption and nutrition.
Another important aspect in the fight against obesity is how product information is displayed and consumers’ ability to make informed choices. Recently, nutrition labeling has been an increasingly debated topic due to the arising of several proposals for innovative Front-of-Pack labels. In the aim of transparency, consumer co-operatives are committed to giving the best and most comprehensive information to their consumers, by using logos such as the wholegrain logo, schemes such as the traffic light system or the Nutri-score labels, which following France and Belgium has recently been adopted in Spain and Germany.
Today, talking about obesity means acknowledging that in order to prevent and manage a global epidemic, interventions should be implemented at every level, from international co-operation to local actions. While current predictions estimate that by 2030 half of global population will be obese, with a rate up to 83% in some countries, citizens’ awareness is growing thanks to increasing attention and dialogue on the issue. Consumer co-ops remain committed to engage in this dialogue and continue to contribute in the fight against obesity by giving maximum priority to the promotion of healthy and high-quality food products to foster prevention and encourage the consumers’ informed choice.
You can consult the Euro Coop Obesity Database here.
Read the Press Release in PDF.
For more information, please contact:
Food Policy Manager
tel: + 32 2 285 00 74