Milk to Fight Against Obesity

EU - A new EU initiative to promote milk and fresh produce to school children will bolster the School Milk scheme and put milk at the heart of the struggle against obesity.
calendar icon 2 October 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

EU agricultural commissioner, Mariann Fischer-Boel warned that obesity amongst European children is alarming, with 22 million overweight children, of which five million are obese.

The common agricultural policy, being instrumental in securing food production and supply in Europe,  has a role to play in getting European waistlines back into shape.

The work has already begun with the overhaul of the school milk scheme in 2008. Previously, high-fat products attracted larger subsidies than low-fat products – which reflected a need to find an outlet for excess EU milk fat production. This has now changed.

Products are eligible for the same level of support regardless of fat content, and to catch children’s interest even more effectively, the scheme now covers a wider range of products: for example, fruit yoghurts and flavoured cheeses.

In the school year 2006/2007, the EU supported the distribution of some 305,000 tonnes of milk to schools in 22 member states. We expect that demand will further increase with the introduction of the revamped scheme.

The EU school fruit scheme, which was launched at the beginning of this school year, is another example of a distribution scheme that is based on society's needs rather than on a need to dispose of surplus produce.

Next on the agenda is the healthy eating campaign, "Eat it, drink it, move it", which will run alongside the two school initiatives. Although funded by the agricultural budget, it is in many ways complementary to the efforts made by health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou's services.

Dairy UK Director General, Jim Begg said: "The Commissioner has quite rightly put milk at the core of Europe's fight against childhood obesity." 

"She recognises that School Milk schemes play an important role in teaching children about the merits of a balanced diet. Dairy UK is working very closely with Defra and DairyCo to ensure that the small amount of funding available for the School Milk scheme in this country is spent in the best possible way."

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