European Perspective on Obesity as a Chronic Disease

European_Parliament_logoThis morning at the European Obesity Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, I attended a session hosted by the EASO Patient council on the issue of whether obesity should be regarded a disease. This is an important discussion because it directly effects the issue of access to care for Europeans living with obesity.

Currently, legislation and policies around obesity as a disease vary widely among the EU member countries.

This may have prompted the recent submission of a written declaration to the European Parliament 0037/2016 submitted under Rule 136 of the Rules of Procedure on the recognition of obesity as a chronic disease.

As this declaration notes,

“Obesity is complex and is caused by many different factors, including medical, cultural and socioeconomic dynamics. This being the case, there is an urgent need to recognise obesity as a disease in order to ensure better mobilisation of resources when it comes to the prevention, treatment and care of the disease.”

and calls on the Commission and the Council to work towards a harmonised Europe-wide recognition of obesity as a chronic disease.

While this declaration is not binding for the European Parliament and it is unclear what it actually means for individuals member countries, the push for recognition of obesity as a disease, which has important policy implications in terms of access to medical care and treatments as well as potential implications for other aspects including anti-discrimination and disability legislation, will hopefully serve Europeans living with obesity well.

Gothenburg, Sweden