New roadmap for food and health research
Unhealthy eating is blamed for one quarter of chronic illnesses, from cancer and heart disease to diabetes and dementia. This has highlighted an urgent need to discourage unhealthy eating by identifying effective solutions and designing better policies in order to combat the phenomenon. The EU-funded project 'Food and health research in Europe' (FAHRE) sought to upgrade research on the subject through joint initiatives among different countries and a stronger role for authorities. The project team mapped food and health research funding along with relevant policy development, identifying key actors and processes involved at regional, national and European levels. Researchers also evaluated food and health research to identify gaps, in addition to liaising with decision makers and highlighting research cooperation opportunities among EU countries. The project's proposed strategies promote the development of better funding instruments based on enhanced transparency, better cooperation and reduced duplication of efforts. In essence, FAHRE supported policymaking to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) in food and health across Europe significantly by preparing 32 country reports that cover a variety of subjects. These include nutrition, diet, food production, food processing, food safety, consumer behaviour and malnutrition. The reports identified 363 research programmes at national and regional levels, and helped articulate the strengths and weaknesses in the field at European level. FAHRE also conducted a workshop on food and health research in Europe, in addition to surveying small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large food companies related to the topic. Project outcomes have included other valuable reports and surveys that help further solutions to combat overeating, involving input from experts, citizens and various stakeholders. Articulation of best practices and recommendations promise to improve health and food safety in Europe, as well as helping to reduce healthcare costs.