No nation today is immune from the obesity epidemic. Developing an action plan, a national strategy, policies and programs to manage the epidemic and prevent its progression is a major concern worldwide. While a number of World Health Organisation (WHO) reports published over the past few decades helped prompt member States to coordinate nutrition plans, the WHO’s Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health released in 2004 strengthens government action on obesity. Governmental action on obesity and/or its main determinants, nutrition and exercise is very broad in scope, has several targets for action, involves many actors and is outlined in large reports.
At the 2006 Québec Annual Public Health Conference (Journées annuelles de santé publique or JASP), held in Montréal, Québec, Canada, a symposium focuses on the elements included in an effective obesity-prevention government plan. Plans, programs, strategies and policies adopted in over a dozen Western countries are considered. This information sheet provides an outline of the plans under consideration. Speakers will not need to make lengthy presentations on their country’s plan, but focus instead on the particular issues at stake. The sheet can also serve as a handy summary for participants. Prior to presenting a profi le of each country’s plan, a historical overview of key publications produced by WHO and other organizations since 1974 gives further insight into the issues surrounding the development of the plans over time, from malnutrition to tackling obesity. The methodology used to develop this document proceeded by consulting the literature posted on the WHO, United Nations (UN), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and European Union (EU) web sites that apply to food and nutrition policies. As for the reviews on programs, action plans, strategies and food and nutrition policies that are included in the document, half were corroborated by symposium speakers, while the others were corroborated using publications from the WHO.