Obesity was the major public health threat facing this generation and the next, Health Minister Chris Fearne warned this morning.

Addressing a press conference prior to an EU technical meeting on childhood obesity, Mr Fearne said 40 per cent of Maltese children were overweight or obese.

Describing the obesity issue as an EU-wide problem, Mr Fearne said EU member states were good at producing policies yet implementation was lacking.

Mr Fearne said the Maltese presidency would be putting forward guidelines on improving the standards of food in schools by addressing procurement issues.

These guidelines would ensure that not only the cheapest but also the healthiest foods were procured, he said.

The health minister said this would reduce childhood obesity and teach children good habits that would spillover into their families.

EU Commission Deputy DG for Food and Health Safety Martin Seychell said that 80 per cent of the burden on health system came from non-communicable diseases that were preventable or could be significantly delayed.

Gauden Galea, from the WHO, emphasised the need to encourage physical activity among children.

He said the one hour of physical activity per week in Maltese children's' curriculum was clearly insufficient.

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