Unhealthy diets and obesity are leading contributors to poor health in Europe. This has a high cost to the economy, including large impacts on the health care system and productivity.

The food industry has an important role to play in addressing obesity and improving population diets

Tackling obesity and improving population diets requires a comprehensive societal response, including government policies, community support, and wide-scale action from the food industry. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified a number of actions that the food industry can take to improve population nutrition and create healthier food environments, including limiting the levels of salt, free sugars, saturated fat, and trans fat in products; ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers; practicing responsible marketing of foods high in salt, free sugars, and saturated fats, especially to children; and providing consumers with clear, easily understood, and evidence-based nutrition information on food labels.

Benchmarking company nutrition policies, commitments, disclosure and performance

In a first phase, this initiative, part of the Horizon 2020-funded STOP project, will assess the largest European food companies on their policies and commitments related to obesity prevention and nutrition, across three major food industry sectors: supermarkets, food and beverage manufacturers, and quick service restaurants. The objective is to highlight where food companies are demonstrating leadership in relation to obesity prevention and nutrition, and identify areas for improvement.

In a second phase performance of companies will also be measured and the tool will be applied at the national level in different European countries.

It is anticipated some first results will become available from 2020 onwards.