Impact Insights: Healthier Lives Through Food
With the launch of EIT Food’s Impact Funding Framework, dive into the detail of EIT Food’s Healthier Lives Through Food mission with this fact sheet.
This fact sheet includes key takeaways and recommendations from EIT Food’s mission insight report, Healthier Lives Through Food, and has been designed to guide applications for EIT Food’s Open Call.
The three priority areas where our EIT Food community believe we can have the most impact are:
- Improving product choice and supply for a balanced diet for people and planet
- Diversifying protein choices for food products
- Optimising the nutrient density of food.
Real progress to prevent diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the life cycle needs radical food systems transformation so that nutritious, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets are available to all people. This also needs to be associated with the importance of exercise.
Addressing diet-related NCDs can only be achieved through dietary behaviour change, which requires a variety of stakeholders working hand in hand to set priorities for NCDs to be tackled and action points to be addressed.
Above all it requires the engagement of all populations, including disadvantaged groups who may lack the financial resources, time and/or knowledge to make major lifestyle changes.
Dive into the detail
Improving product choice and supply for a balanced diet for people and planet
To incentivise the production of healthy foods, food production, processing and retail industries must grasp that responsibility. This also comprises responsible marketing and advertisement.
Diversifying protein choices for food products
In relation to increased protein diversification, there is recognition that processed meat is a risk factor for several NCDs. This needs greater public awareness and separate dietary guidelines from red meat.
Optimising the nutrient density of food
There is evidence that trans-fat intake is higher in Baltic and eastern European countries (which results in a higher prevalence of cardio-vascular diseases. Other factors need to be combined with dietary change for most impact.
Cardiovascular disease in other European countries is still the major cause of death, morbidity and a number of other outcomes. Improving knowledge of food/nutrition across life course will be vital for public uptake.
To reduce childhood obesity the importance of diet and exercise should be taught together. Related to this is the importance of exercise at all ages, which not only reduces NCD risk but can also enhance mental health.
Alzheimer’s disease/dementia is now a major cause of mortality and morbidity especially in women. There is good evidence that those with the ApoE4 genotype (E4/E4 especially) have a substantially increased risk which may interact with diet.
NCDs to prioritise
NCDs with dietary casual links
- Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) and stroke: Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remain the largest cause of death by far (34%) 71% of which is IHD plus stroke.
- Countries with the highest prevalence rates in Europe: Estonia, Serbia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania
- Colorectal Cancer: Cancers are the second largest cause of death (31%) with colorectal cancer 13% of the total (6th overall).
- Countries with the highest prevalence rates in Europe: Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Neurological disorders are the third largest cause of death (6.7%) of which ~90% is Alzheimer’s disease.
- Countries with the highest prevalence rates in Europe: Slovenia, Croatia, Czechia
- Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 Diabetes has apparently relatively low mortality rate but there is concern that CVD is a cause of death registration.
- Countries with the highest prevalence rates in Europe: Czechia, UK, Germany
There are very substantial variations in diet-responsiveness NCDs between countries. Mid and eastern EU countries, particularly Bulgaria, have the highest CVD and colorectal cancer mortality rates.
There are higher mortality rates in women from Alzheimer’s but more understanding on link with diet required. There is also an identified need to increase awareness and education in primary and secondary education.
The recommendations resulting from these three priority areas focus on diet-related changes in food consumption for more healthy life years by means of four key enablers which:
- advance regulation and policy frameworks to support faster development and uptake of new products and technologies
- allow consumers to better understand and learn to prevent NCDs by way of their diets
- provide knowledge and data to gain new and/or better and more timely insights on food production and consumption patterns as well as health impact
- establish new collaborations and partnerships within and beyond the food system.
Three key domains to concentrate efforts on are:
- increasing input of more healthy ingredients and products into the food system
- developing technologies to safeguard nutrient density/content
- prioritising “Healthier Lives through Food” within the supply chain.
Got an idea that will change food systems for the better?
We’ve launched a competitive, open Impact Funding Framework to promote ambitious, long-term collaboration that will lead to food systems change to benefit us all.