Volume 50 (2013) / Issue 6
Non-communicable diseases account for nearly 86percent of deaths and 77percent of the disease burden in Europe. In light of these worrying trends, the European Union has started to develop a range of policies intended to encourage healthier lifestyles, and in particular to reduce smoking, to combat the harmful use of alcohol and to promote healthier diets and physical activity. This article attempts to systematize the common themes emerging between these policies and place lifestyle risk regulation more firmly on the EU agenda. It demonstrates that, besides the inherent complexity of this emerging field of EU studies, which requires a coordinated multi-sectoral response, the very nature of the EU itself gives rise to additional issues around roles, obligations and rights. We conclude that the EU should reflect more systematically upon the coherence, the effectiveness and the limits of its embryonic lifestyle risk policy, and that it should do so in light of the Global Action Plan on the Control and Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases for 2013-2020, unanimously adopted in May at the last World Health Assembly.
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