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The PorGrow project – an introduction and overview


Professor E Millstone, SPRU, Freeman Centre, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QE, UK. E-mail:


Obesity in Europe is reaching epidemic proportions, and Europe’s policymakers need more information on the approaches that stakeholders judge effective and consider acceptable. The Policy Options for Responding to the Growing Challenge of Obesity Research Project interviewed food producers, manufacturers and retailers, advertisers and caterers, life insurers, pharmaceutical companies, teachers, public health experts, town planners, advocacy organizations and consumer groups in nine countries: Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK. Interviews were conducted using innovative Multi-Criteria Mapping software which provides reproducible and transparent structured information on the stakeholders’ perceptions, judgements and reasons. The results indicate that a comprehensive portfolio of policy measures, integrated into a coherent programme, would be well-supported by a broad coalitions of stakeholders. The costs of such a programme were not considered as important as the potential costs of not taking action. Policymakers can be confident that the great majority of stakeholders recognize the need for action and are prepared to accept their costs, but that the ‘upstream’ interventions such as marketing controls, planning and transport controls and fiscal measures, will need to be justified in terms of their wider health and social benefits.

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