EuroHealthNet welcomes the EC’s commitment to develop a Farm to Fork Strategy for sustainable food systems. We strongly support a comprehensive, ambitious and truly transformative transition to European food systems that put people and planetary health, sustainability and social equity at the centre. In a framework of the European Green Deal, this strategy offers an important opportunity to design and deliver a coherent response to current – and future, if business as usual prevails – health, social and environmental challenges related to unsustainable food production and consumption patterns.
Unhealthy diets – major contributor to a NCDs pandemic – are already responsible for over 950,000 deaths and 16 million DALYs lost in the EU (the 2017 Global Burden of Disease). Today’s food systems are perpetuating and driving up health inequalities – which is conspicuously missing from this proposed strategic thinking. There is an abundance of evidence to show that sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles of people are heavily influenced by their social, economic, and environmental circumstances and cultural contexts. Therefore, a pivotal role for a modern, fit-for-purpose strategy will be in creating food environments where “a healthy choice is an easy choice” for all. EuroHealthNet counsels against disproportionate focus on “downstream”, “personalised” lifestyle-oriented measures (information, education) without real appreciation of the underlying causes of ill-health and disease, the social determinants. They are part of a solution, but not enough to drive the transformative changes needed.