As the low-carb trend reaches a plateau in the U.S., dieters have been greeted by yet another weight loss scheme in the form of the book French Women Don't Get Fat, a recent bestseller on's (NASDAQ:AMZN) website. Well, French women may not have gotten fat, but if European Union (EU) data is any indication, that fact may not hold for French kids. About one out of every four children in Europe is obese, and EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou wants that to change.

Kyprianou recently indicated that the European Union will pass new laws forcing high-sugar or high-fat food makers to restrict their marketing to youngsters unless these companies can work out their own voluntary code on such practices. The commissioner also wants firms to develop labeling that makes it easier to understand products' nutritional information.

This development across the Atlantic mirrors the latest trends in the U.S. Kraft (NYSE:KFT) announced that it would curtail its ads aimed at children and also is preparing clearer nutrition labeling for its products. In addition, General Mills (NYSE:GIS) has changed its cereals so that they're now all made with whole grains.

Some companies have even blurred the line between junk food and health food, perhaps in an effort to deflect criticism from their less healthful foods. Hershey (NYSE:HSY) now offers a low-carb chocolate bar and even has entered the nutritional segment with its SmartZone bars, developed with The Zone Diet author Barry Sears. Meanwhile, Cadbury Schweppes (NYSE:CSG) has introduced 7Up Plus, a low-calorie soft drink made with fruit juice and fortified with calcium and vitamin C.

Certainly concern over obesity on both sides of the Atlantic is justified. And companies moving to offer more healthful products can only benefit consumers. Still, the EU's threat to pass legislation seems a little bit heavy-handed. Yes, clearer labeling will help parents and kids may be less likely to clamor for sugary or fatty foods if they are not constantly bombarded by ads. But the sad fact is, label and ad changes and the millions companies are spending on creating healthier alternatives might be largely a waste of effort and money. After all, sugary and fatty foods are nothing new, even though obesity is. Eventually, Europeans and Americans alike will have to accept that their own habits are a bigger problem than the food on supermarket shelves.

Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.