The demographic development is a challenge for the European healthcare systems, and to meet these challenges it is crucial to develop efficient health preventive strategies to ensure that the population is, and stays fit as long as possible. However, along with demographic development, Europe is also facing a boom in lifestyle diseases which constitute an impediment for healthy ageing. Smoking and obesity are considered to be the major causes in this regard. Both internationally and nationally there has been a strong commitment to reduce smoking, and it seems that a combination of information, economic incentives and legal regulation have been successful. The article explores whether the same public health strategy could be useful fighting obesity, and discusses whether such public health measures are compliant from a human and patients’ rights perspective. Special questions regarding public health initiatives targeting elderly patients will also be addressed.
J.C. Coreil & J.S. Levin‘A Critique of the lifestyle concept in public health education’Policy Theory and Social Issues1985 pp. 103-114; and S. Vallgårda ‘Why the concept “lifestyle diseases” should be avoided’ 39 Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2011 pp. 773-775.
Commission of the European Communitysupra note 7 p. 3.
Commission of the European Communitysupra note 7 pp. 5-6. For a comprehensive analysis and discussion of EU food regulation as part of an obesity strategy see A. Faeh Obesity in Europe. The Strategy of the European Unions from a Public Health Law Perspective European Journal of Health Law 19(1) (2012) 69-86.
R. Bayer and A.L. Fairchild‘The genesis of public health ethics’Bioethics18:6 (2004) 473-492.