SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

PorGrow - Policy options for responding to the growing challenge of obesity

The PorGrow project ran from July 2004 - December 2006

Leaner times ahead

View/download the PorGrow project documents:

Obesity in Europe is reaching epidemic proportions, but Europe's policy-makers need more information about what controls might be acceptable and effective. The PorGrow project will provide national and cross-national information to analyse the varying perceptions and judgements of key stakeholder groups in nine European countries. This should contribute to identifying promising policy initiatives, and helping policy-makers, industry bodies, public health and medical groups to make informed strategic choices.

Obesity is an intractable problem, causing suffering and predisposing those affected to other medical problems, and imposing medical and social costs on governments. There are a variety of ways in which obesity can be treated, but far less has been done to identify strategies for its prevention. It is not even clear whether there is one optimal approach, or whether differences in diet and culture mean that approaches should vary in different countries and regions.

The PorGrow project will address these uncertainties by using an innovative methodology to define how decisions on preventing obesity could best be made. A broad range of policies might have some relevance. For example, foods which are currently over-consumed, like manufactured cakes and biscuits, could be made less attractive by reducing subsidies, or the prices of fruit and vegetables could be reduced by increasing subsidies. Information on the nutritional value of foods could be made more accessible and meaningful to consumers, or marketing of locally-produced fruit and vegetables could be encouraged. The PorGrow Project will draw upon the expertise of project participants to collect views on these possible approaches in nine countries, representing a broad range of geographic and demographic types. For this reason, their inputs can be expected to reflect a wide range of dietary, cooking, and physical activity regimes.

PorGrow seeks to identify the policy, or collection of policies, that might provide the most effective means with which to reverse the rising trend in the prevalence of obesity.

Further information

Co-ordinator: Dr Erik Millstone
E E.P.Millstone@sussex.ac.uk
SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit
Freeman Centre
University of Sussex, Brighton 


  • Cyprus: Research and Education Foundation of Child Health
  • Finland: The UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research
  • France: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement
  • Greece: University of Crete
  • Hungary: Semmelweis Medical School
  • Italy: Institute of International Sociology
  • Poland: Instytut Zywnosci I Zywienia
  • Spain: University of Alicante


30 months