We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
The European Commission has launched a Knowledge Gateway on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention to support the implementation of health policies across the EU.
The new web gateway, developed by the JRC and European Commission Directorate-General Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), provides reliable, independent and up-to date information on topics related to the promotion of health and the prevention of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Speaking at the launch event in Ispra, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: "People's dietary habits and lifestyle have an important impact on their health and quality of life. This is why I strongly encourage Member States and stakeholders to focus more on promoting good health. However, sometimes it can be complicated both for policy-makers and for the general public - we are so often presented with authoritative 'facts' on what constitutes good nutrition or proper physical activity and we have to navigate through a sea of misinformation, opinions, prejudices, and myths to find the truth. Hence, I am delighted to launch today the Health Promotion and Prevention Gateway, a 'one-stop shop' for independent and reliable information to help promote good health and prevent disease. I hope that it will become a reference point for public health policy-makers – in all sectors and at all levels – as well as a source of clear and reliable information for ordinary citizens."
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, commented: "This tool was created with and for decision-makers in EU Member States working in the area of public health. Hundreds of research papers, multiple data sources and policy examples were digested and turned into short reference guides on key policy topics which summarise the most important facts for policy makers. The information is tailored to the needs of national policy making bodies and presented in a user-friendly format. This will help to formulate health policies based on rigorous and objective assessment criteria."
The Gateway provides structured, concise, up-to-date and peer-reviewed information.
The first six briefs published address marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages, health inequalities as well as the intake of dietary fibre, protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grain. In addition to defining the issue at hand and its health-related implications, each brief provides a summary of EU data and lists best-practices, actions, interventions as well as concrete policies that address the topic.
Briefs on other topics, including sugar, fats and the effects of alcohol as well as the burden and cost of the diseases associated with poor diet and lack of physical activity, will be added in the near future.
The launch of the Gateway follows the call for a healthy lifestyle made in Tartu, Estonia, on 22 September by Commissioners Phil Hogan (agriculture and rural development), Tibor Navracsics (education, culture, youth and sport) and Vytenis Andriukaitis (health and food safety), which sets out a roadmap for promoting healthy lifestyles in Europe, particular amongst children, over the next two years.
All EU countries have committed to prioritise and implement actions which will help reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one third before 2030 through prevention and treatment as well as promoting mental health and well-being is specifically mentioned in SDG target 3.4.
The Commission supports the Member States in the implementation of these actions through the Strategy on Nutrition, Overweight, and Obesity-related health issues, the Health Programme and the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity and the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.
Ongoing initiatives include the Action Plan on Childhood Obesity, the Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity and the EU Framework for National Initiatives on Selected Nutrients.