Healthy lifestyle campaign in the EU with focus on more sport and healthier food

Healthy lifestyle campaign in the EU with focus on more sport and healthier food
Credit: Unsplash/Gabin Vallet

The European Commission launched this week a campaign to promote a healthy lifestyle for all, across generations and social groups, with the objective to improve the health and well-being of Europeans.

The HealthyLifestyle4All campaign links sport and active lifestyles with health, food and other policies. The two-year campaign involves civil society, non-governmental organisations, national, local and regional authorities and international bodies. All involved will implement several actions for Europeans to be more active and more mindful of their health.

All participating organisations can submit a commitment for concrete actions in the online Pledge Board. Several EU countries and organisations have already submitted their contribution, with many more to be expected.

As a coordinator of the campaign, the Commission will implement several actions in the next two years, among others an increase infunding for projects supporting a healthy lifestyle in the Erasmus+, Horizon Europe and EU4Health programmes. For 2021-2027, €470 million will be available for sport actions under Erasmus+, €290 million under Horizon Europe, and €4.4 million under EU4Health.

The Commission will also develop and update a food ingredients database containing information on the nutritional quality of processed food products sold in the EU to promote healthier food products and reduce the consumption of less healthy food products high in sugar, fat and salt.

A harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling will further support that objective as well as the EU Code of Conduct on responsible food business and marketing practices that entered in force in July 2021.

The launch of the campaign coincides with the start of the European Week of Sport 2021, which takes place from 23 to 30 September across Europe under the patronage of three great European athletes: Beatrice Vio, Jorge Pina and Sergey Bubka. Thousands of events, online and on the ground, will highlight the power of physical activity to bring joy, build resilience and connect generations.

“People's awareness about the role of sport and fitness for a healthy lifestyle has only grown over the years, not least because of the pandemic,” said Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, responsible among others for Culture, Education and Youth. “We have to keep the momentum.”

Vice-President Margaritis Schinas added that, “The lack of physical activity not only has a negative impact on society and people's health, but also results in economic costs. In addition, sport has the potential to strengthen messages of tolerance and reinforce citizenship throughout Europe.”

The campaign comes at the right time. According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, nearly half of Europeans never exercise or play sport, and the proportion has increased gradually in recent years. Only 1 in 7 persons aged 15 or over eats at least five portions of fruit or vegetables daily, while 1 in 3 does not eat any fruit or vegetables every day.

The arguments for a healthy lifestyle are well-known. Healthy lifestyles contribute to reduce the incidence of a number of non-communicable diseases. For example, it is an established fact that over 40% of cancers are preventable and unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles are important determinants.

Sport is recognised for boosting the immune system, helping improve mental health and teaching us important values of inclusion and participation.

The Brussels Times

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