European Union promotes healthy lifestyles

"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health." This formula for a healthy life was proposed over 2000 years ago by Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician and so-called father of medicine. Two millennia later, healthy living is just as important as ever, and more joined-up thinking when it comes to policy-making could be one possible solution, according to three European Commissioners who have launched a joint call for action.

Coinciding with the European week of sport, the Tartu call for a healthy lifestyle was launched on 22 September in the Estonian city of the same name by Commissioners Phil Hogan (agriculture and rural development), Tibor Navracsics (education, culture, youth and sport) and Vytenis Andrikiukaitis (health and food safety), and sets out a roadmap for promoting healthy lifestyles in Europe, particular amongst children, over the next two years.

Among the proposals set out in the call are:
  • increasing funding for projects promoting sport (funded through the EU's Erasmus+ programme), with a possible focus on specific settings such as schools
  • encouraging innovative approaches to promoting and raising awareness of the benefits of healthy lifestyles through the EU's innovation and technology networks such as EIT Health and EIT Food
  • promoting the EU school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme launched in August 2017 as well as educational tools such as the teachers' resource pack
  • supporting campaigns to promote healthy diets and increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables (such as the '5-a-day' campaign) as part of the programme of promotion of EU agricultural products funded each year through the common agricultural policy budget
An unhealthy population has a direct impact on social security and healthcare costs, and risks becoming an ever-increasing burden on the European economy. And with scientific evidence clearly showing that sedentary lifestyles and a poor diet can lead to ill health, particularly later in life, the aim of the Tartu call is to encourage a more consistent and effective approach across Europe towards the promotion of healthy lifestyles, making use of EU initiatives and funding where available, to improve the health not only of citizens but also of EU public finances.

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