The PorGrow project: overall cross-national results, comparisons and implications


Professor E Millstone, SPRU – Science and Technology Policy Research, Freeman Centre, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QE, UK. E-mail:


European policymakers need more information on policy responses to obesity that stakeholders judge effective and acceptable. The Policy Options for Responding to the Growing Challenge of Obesity Research Project gathered such intelligence by interviewing key stakeholder groups in nine countries. Interviews used an innovative multi-criteria mapping (MCM) methodology that gathers quantitative and qualitative information on the stakeholders’ perceptions and judgements. Aggregating across all participants, a comprehensive portfolio of policy measures, integrated into a coherent programme, would be well-supported by broad coalitions of stakeholders. Those portfolios should include measures (i) to provide improved educations in schools and to the general adult population; (ii) measures to improve access to and incentives for physical activity; (iii) measures to improve information about both foods and physical activity and (iv) changes to the supply of and demand for foodstuffs. There was little support for fiscal measures and technological ‘fixes’; they were judged ineffective and unacceptable. Significant differences were found across European regions, and across different stakeholder perspectives, but not across genders. There is a strong case for improved monitoring of body mass index levels, dietary habits and physical activity. An MCM study can effectively cover several countries, rather than being confined to just one, and generate both national and cross-national policy analyses and proposals.