Parliamentary Secretary Chris Fearne said that obesity will be one of the health priorities for Malta’s EU Presidency. Dr. Fearne was addressing a roundtable discussion in Brussels on obesity organised by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) together with a group of interested stakeholders and political champions to share information and discuss collaboration on joint projects and to agree on how to raise the profile of obesity on the European political agenda. Dr. Fearne, who was invited to participate in this Conference by Maltese MEP Alfred Sant, said one of the things to do here will be to ask for a mid-term review on what has been done as part of the 2014-2020 strategy on Child obesity launched by the Greek presidency back in 2014. He said that the diagnosis of obesity is still screened by other conditions like diabetes and depression, but that it needs to be considered on its own, independently of these problems, though it contributes to them and they to it. Dr. Fearne pointed at the need to recognise obesity as a disease and establish a way to treat it. He also called for more funding to tackle the issue.

Dr. Sant, who also addressed the Conference, thanked Dr. Fearne for attending the Conference. He said that economic development in Europe has led to a high standard of living, bringing benefits we all enjoy. It has also had major negative side effects. Among which obesity. Yet this is also a major concern in societies, including European, where poverty or risk of poverty is rife. Obesity does not hit the affluent only, it also hits the poor. It is also a major concern in Malta.

‘Beyond getting the obesity problem to the top of national agendas, our aim should also be to focus on making the fight against it a priority in the policy making of the European Union. Obesity needs to be tackled from all angles. Not least the promotional strategies followed by companies to sell fast food. Not least the way children are fed in schools and at home. Not least the limited strategies available to normal citizens, living in isolated conditions, to deal with depression. Least of all can one ignore the prevalence of obesity among people living in low socioeconomic conditions. The European Commission has confirmed that in Europe, there is a significant correlation between obesity and people in lower socioeconomic groups, particulary women and children.’ Dr. Sant said.

Dr. Sant said the challenge we face is not just professional, or social, or political, or even economic. It’s a complex challenge that needs to be faced via a multidimensional, integrated approach that brings together, doctors, psychologists, sociologists, health planners, economists and marketeers, among others — at both the national and European levels. Politicians, both the national and European levels, must be on board, not simply consider the issue does not win votes, he said.

Other guests included Mr. Darren Azzopardi, Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity, Joao Breda Programme Manager Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, WHO, Carlos Oliviera from the Portuguese obese patients association, Dr Dominique Durrer from the EASO Patient Council, Irish MEP Mcguinness and Portuguese MEP Zorrinho.

Maltese Version – L-OBESITA` SE TKUN WAĦDA MILL-PRIJORITAJIET TAL-PRESIDENZA MALTIJA

Is-Segretarju Parlamentari Chris Fearne qal li l-obesita` se tkun waħda mill-prijoritajiet ewlenin tal-Presidenza ta’ Malta fil-Kunsill tal-Unjoni Ewropea bħal daż-żmien sena. Dr Fearne stqarr dan waqt li kien qed jindirizza Konferenza fi Brussell dwar l-obesita` organizzata mill-Assoċjazzjoni Ewropea tal-Istudju tal-Obesita` (EASO). Id-diskussjoni kellha l-għan li tinxtered l-informazzjoni u tiżdied il-kollaborazzjoni għal proġetti konġunti, kif ukoll biex jintlaħaq qbil dwar l-istrateġija biex l-obesita` tingħata aktar importanza fl-aġenda politika tal-UE.

Dr Fearne kien mistieden jipparteċipa fil-Konferenza mill-Membru Parlamentari Ewropew Dr Alfred Sant. Dr Fearne qal li fost affarijiet oħra, jkun tajjeb li ssir analiżi ta’ xi twettaq s’issa mill-istrateġija 2014-2020 dwar l-obesita` fit-tfal li tnediet mill-Presidenza Griega fl-2014. Hu qal li d-dijanjosi tal-obesita` ssir waqt eżamijiet mediċi oħra bħal tad-dijabete u d-depressjoni, imma qal li din il-kundizzjoni għandha tkun eżaminata għaliha nfisha, indipendentement minn problemi oħra. Dan minkejja li dawn il-kundizzjonijiet kollha jaffettwaw lil xulxin. Dr Fearne saħaq li l-obesita` għandha tkun rikonoxxuta bħala marda u allura għandu jkun hemm mod stabbilit ta’ kif għandha titfejjaq. Hu qal li jeħtieġ li jingħataw aktar fondi biex tiġi megħluba din il-kundizzjoni.

Waqt li indirizza l-Konferenza Dr Sant qal li l-iżvilupp ekonomiku fl-Ewropa wassal għal-livelli għoljin ta’ għixien u benefiċċji oħra li kulħadd igawdi minnhom. Dan kollu ħalla wkoll effetti negattivi. Waħda minnhom hija l-obesita`. Din tħasseb lis-soċjetajiet moderni, inklużi l-Ewropej, fejn il-faqar jew ir-riskju tal-faqar huwa komuni. L-Obesita` ma tolqotx lil min hu sinjur biss, tolqot ukoll lil min hu fqir. Il-kundizzjoni hija ta’ tħassib ukoll f’Malta, qal Dr. Sant.
‘Il-problema tal-obesita` għandha tkun fl-ogħla pjanijiet politiċi nazzjonali tal-pajjiżi. Imma mhux biss. Għandna nagħmlu l-ġlieda kontra l-obesita` prijorita` fil-politika tal-Unjoni Ewropea. L-obesita` trid tkun analizzata mill-angoli kollha, anki mil-lat ta’ dawk il-kumpaniji li jużaw strateġiji ta’ riklamar biex ibigħu l-‘fast foods’. Kif ukoll mil-lat ta’ ikel li uliedna jixtru fl-iskejjel, dak li jieklu d-dar u anki mil-lat ta’ ċittadin normali li għandu strateġiji limitati biex jgħix bid-dipressjoni. Wieħed ma jistax jinsa l-prevalenza tal-obesita` fost il-popolazzjoni f’livell soċjo-ekonomiku baxx. Il-Kummissjoni Ewropea kkonfermat li fl-Ewropa hemm relazzjoni bejn l-obesita` u dawk li jgħixu f’livell soċjo-ekonomiku baxx, partikolarment nisa u tfal.’

Dr. Sant qal li l-isfida li qed naffaċċjaw mhix waħda professjonali biss, l-anqas soċjali, politika jew ekonomika. Din l-isfida hija kumplessa u teħtieġ li tingħeleb bi strateġija ħolistika; strateġija li fost oħrajn teħtieġ tobba, psikologi, soċjologi, djetologi, ekonomisti u esperti tas-suq – kemm f’livell nazzjonali kif ukoll fuq livell Ewropew. Il-politiċi, fuq livell nazzjonali u fuq livell Ewropew, m’għandhomx jinjoraw din il-problema sempliċiment għax jaħsbu li ma jirbħux voti biha, enfasizza Dr. Sant.
Mistednin fost oħrajn kien hemm ukoll Mr Darren Azzopardi, Ministeru tal-Familja u Solidarjeta` Soċjali, Joao Breda Programme Manager Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, WHO, Carlos Oliviera mill-assoċjazzjoni tal-pazjenti Portugiżi bl-obesita`, Dr Dominique Durrer mill-EASO Patient Council, l-Membru Parlamentari Ewropew Irlandiż Mcguinness u l-Membru Parlamentari tal-Portugall Zorrinho.