July 27, 2015 | Monday

Health and nutrition concerns across the EU

It is widely estimated that public health is affected by a whole range of environmental factors:

• airborne pollutants – cause or exacerbate respiratory diseases, allergies, poisoning and cancer.
• unsafe environments – can be responsible for accidents, injuries and reluctance to be physically active
• other factors – chemicals, food contamination and allergies, soil pollution, housing quality, planning decisions, noise, water, sanitation, etc.
The EU is working closely with national governments and experts to promote healthy environments and devise responses to health threats, including climate change. In addition, the EU is taking a preventive action and awareness campaign against diseases through:

• responsible food labelling – so consumers know what they’re eating
• action against breast, cervical & colorectal cancer – EU-wide screening programmes, providing quality assurance guidelines for treatment, pooling knowledge & resources
• measures to promote a healthy diet & exercise – encouraging governments, NGOs & industry to work together, making it easier for consumers to change their lifestyles.
• combating smoking through legislation on tobacco products, raising awareness, advertising & sponsorship.
The EU Regulation on nutrition and health claims (2006) lays down harmonised rules across the European Union for the use of nutrition claims such as “low fat”, “high fibre” or health claims such as “reducing blood cholesterol”. This Regulation foresees implementing measures to ensure that any claim made on foods’ labelling, presentation or marketing in the European Union is clear, accurate and based on evidence accepted by the whole scientific community. Consequently foods bearing claims that could mislead consumers will be eliminated from the market. This will enhance the consumers’ ability to make informed and meaningful choices.
As food production has become more and more complex, consumers are increasingly interested in the information appearing on food labels. They have also become more interested in their diet, its relationship to health, and, more generally, the composition of foodstuffs that they are selecting. For these reasons it is important that information about foodstuffs and their nutritional value appearing on the labelling and used for their presentation, marketing and advertising should be clear, accurate and meaningful.
The introduction of genetic engineering in food production has received considerable public attention in many European countries. Understanding the concern that consumers express over such new technologies and their application in food production is crucial to legislative authorities, industry and other organisations with vested interests in the issue.

It has been long known that low intake of essential nutrients creates predisposition to deficiency disorders. However, we are only beginning to understand that many previously unappreciated components of our diet may prove important in promoting wellbeing and preventing a range of chronic diseases. Within the last decade, as research into the relationship between diet and health has proliferated, so too has the body of data from epidemiological and experimental studies that indicate vegetables and fruits contain substances which appear to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidant compounds and it is proposed that antioxidants such as vitamins E and C and pro- and nonprovitamin A carotenoids, reduce the risk of chronic diseases by protecting against free-radical mediated damage.

Thus, informed decisions and educational campaigns to raise public awareness on health and nutrition are an integral part of present and future EU legislative acts and policies.


• New EUICC publication “EU motion” available in English, Albanian and Serbian
• Lorenzo Natali Media Prize 2015 is also open for professional and amateur journalists in Kosovo http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/lnp/lorenzo-natali-prize/rules-faq_en
EUICC Pristina

• Educational workshop: Healthy Life – Healthy Mind, 12 August
• Green Cinema, August – every Thursday evening
EUICC North Mitrovica
• Recycling and Applied Arts Exhibition, 29 July
• Green Cinema, August