Client name: European Commission (EC)

Duration: 2012-2014

Location: European Union

Coffey led an evaluation of the European Union’s Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity Related Health Issues.

Situation

More than half of Europeans are overweight or obese, resulting in significant economic and healthcare costs to European Union (EU) member states. In response, the EU created the Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity Related Health Issues in 2007. The strategy defined the framework for health policy coordination between the European Commission, EU member states, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe and private sector actors.

A Coffey-led consortium was contracted to offer an assessment of whether actions taken under the framework have contributed to target outcomes of promoting health, preventing ill health caused by poor nutrition, excess weight and obesity, and reducing overall levels of overweight and obesity by 2015 to meet the WHO Europe target.

Solution

The evaluation assessed the implementation process – looking at if, how and how far the initiatives have been developed by the European Commission and other relevant actors. It also assessed the initiatives’ impact – to what extent the initiatives and the strategy as a whole have produced results in line with their respective objectives.

The evaluation undertook an assessment of activities under the framework in six thematic areas – Member State activities, European Union Platform, EU legislation, the integration of EU policies, EU funding and programs and the WHO’s monitoring system and evidence base on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Europe.

In order to develop a better understanding of the totality of actions and impacts, Coffey undertook overarching case studies. This included analysis of activities by EU Member States, the private sector (especially the food and advertising industries), civil society, the European Commission (EC), and the manner of EC cooperation with WHO Europe.

The case studies reviewed what types of interventions were in place to address problems and how effective the interventions had been. The three focus areas were: an examination of the availability of healthy food (physically and financially), a review of activities being undertaken to encourage physical activity, and a study of the activities addressing health inequalities for socio-economically disadvantaged populations.

Result

As a result of the evaluation process undertaken by the Coffey-led consortium, we made several recommendations to the European Commission. These recommendations helped the European Union to shape policy on overweight and obesity. In particular, the Commission has raised the number and profile of initiatives aimed at boosting physical activity. It has also emphasised the importance of reducing health inequalities across policies and programs dealing with wider issues and put in place an action plan for implementing the more specific recommendations.