In an unprecedented alliance, advertisers and Eurocrats announced Tuesday a joint initiative to combat soaring obesity levels across the European Union.

Following seven months of talks the World Federation of Advertisers and the European Commission have agreed to tackle the issue on a joint basis, the WFA having conceded it has a role to play on the anti-fat front. Also involved in the discussions and future action are industry and public sector bodies.

Says WFA managing director Stephan Loerke: "Since obesity has complex, multiple and interrelated causes, all stakeholders who can contribute to finding solutions should join the platform."

Loerke accepts that the alteration of individual behaviour patterns will be an uphill task: "Changing dietary habits and lifestyles will require the mobilisation of society as a whole, something that can only be achieved through collective consensus building."

The WFA has undertaken to promote "responsible advertising" to its members. It will also submit proposals for pan-European promotional guidelines and lobby for the adoption of a code of conduct.

"The promotion of responsible advertising is central to the WFA's activities and we are committed to ensuring that best practice in responsible food and beverage advertising is applied consistently across Europe," Loerke promised.

He added that "the advertising industry's creative talent and unique consumer understanding can be harnessed to promote healthier diets and lifestyles among EU citizens."

Data sourced from Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff