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Department of Political Science
University of Mississippi

Hold the Croissant! The European Union Declares War on Obesity

fi-europeansocialpolicyKurzer, Paulette and Alice Cooper. 2011. “Hold the Croissant! The European Union Declares War on Obesity,”  Journal of European Social Policy 21:2, pp. 1-13.

In this paper, we argue that EU institutions have demonstrated an interest in diet/nutrition for some time, but only in the last five years has obesity risen to the top of the agenda. How did the Commission and European parliament become involved in fighting obesity? It is not because national governments or societal interest groups or public health agencies pushed EU officials to reduce the body mass of European citizens. Rather, drawing on the literature on transnational policy actors, we show that the current attention to obesity is heavily influenced by WHO research reports. Moreover, the WHO’s recommendations on obesity supply EU institutions with a new agenda, which in turn mobilizes pan-European groups and private sector interests. Obesity provides a further example of entrepreneurial Commission officials pursuing alliances with international institutions in order to take advantage of their scientific expertise and to carve out a new EU agenda.