Broad collaboration will pave the way for healthier lifestyles

June 2013 Broad collaboration will pave the way for healthier lifestyles

On 30 May, AIM co-organised together with MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt a debate in the European Parliament to explore the role that brands play in promoting healthy lifestyles. Bringing together policymakers from the EU institutions and representatives of some of Europe’s biggest brands, the debate highlighted a consensus among industry, regulators and civil society around the need to build on the success of multi-stakeholder, voluntary initiatives such the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and the Better Oral Health Platform.

The event entitled, ‘The role of Brands for Health and Well-being - Working Together for Healthier Lifestyles’, marked the five year anniversary of the ‘AIM Charter on Brands for Health and Well-being’, a milestone in the work of industry to support the EU health and sustainability agenda. The positive impact of other voluntary initiatives in the framework of multi-stakeholder platforms such as the ‘Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing’, and the ‘Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe’ were also highlighted. Participants were informed of the success of the latter which is a project that is cosponsored by GSK Consumer Healthcare and Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program. In a rather short period of time, this Platform has managed to coordinate stakeholder actions and raise awareness of the strong association between oral health and overall health. This has prompted the Commission to make oral health a priority action area.

Members of the European Parliament and European Commission Officials recognised the efforts of industry to adapt their brands to promote healthier lifestyles. Ahead of the upcoming review of the ‘EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health’, host MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt joined Isabel de la Mata from DG Health and Consumers in stressing the desire of EU regulators to see continued effective industry self-regulation. According to Ms. de la Mata, the next step should be a shift of focus from education and lifestyle to the promotion of physical activity and health equality. Reformulating unhealthy foods and refraining from advertising to children were also identified as priority issues.

AIM President Roger Scarlett-Smith said, “A brand has to live forever, and in order to do so, it needs to fulfil the expectations of the general public in terms of trust, innovation and engagement.” He added that, “Trust has to be earned by delivering on short term promises such as quality, safety and satisfaction, but also on long-term commitments, including to health and sustainability.”

Mr. Scarlett-Smith concluded with three key points for stakeholders to reflect upon: the importance of broad collaboration; that promoting healthy lifestyles is a systemic issue requiring a broad-based approach; and that effective progress requires strong leadership both from the industry and from policymakers, coupled with good governance and transparency.

‘The role of Brands for Health and Well-being - Working Together for Healthier Lifestyles’ featured interventions by: Anna Maria Corazza Bildt MEP, (EPP, SE), Roger Scarlett-Smith, President of AIM and Consumer Healthcare Europe, GSK; Isabel de la Mata, Principal Adviser, DG Health and Consumer, European Commission; Jean Bernou, CEO Continental Europe, responsible for global CSR, McCain; and Anthony Kleanthous, former WWF sustainability adviser, consultant and writer, founder of Here Tomorrow Ltd. The discussion was moderated by Toine Manders MEP (ALDE, NL).

Read the full event report here.

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