The link between nutritional habits and health is undeniable. While half of the worlds’ nutrition-related problems is linked to under-nutrition and nutrient deficiencies, the other half is related to energy over-nutrition and imbalanced diets.
As an example, the lack of fruits and vegetables and over-nutrition with animal fats and salty foods (so-called Western Style Diet) are considered as major contributors to the obesity pandemic and its related complications as well as certain cancers or neurodegenerative diseases.
The European Commission's Health and Consumer General Directorate (DG SANCO) states on its website that "in Europe today, 6 of the 7 biggest risk factors for premature death – blood pressure, cholesterol, Body Mass Index, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse – relate to how we eat, drink and move". Eating, drinking and physical activity are everyday tasks that are prone to intervention, hence a major challenge is how to promote and implement changes in these activities that will result in a better health population-wide. In this context, the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) is providing an expert base of knowledge to tackle nutritional and health issues within the context of EU Health and Consumer Policies.
The Institute's goal is to provide independent solid scientific advice to European Commission Services, EU Institutions and EU Member States in the field of nutritional science, and particularly in the implementation of the European strategy on nutrition, overweight, and obesity-related health issues. Scientists at the IHCP are reviewing state-of-the-art scientific developments in nutritional science, and their applicability and relevance for decision making in the areas of public health policy and nutritional recommendations.
Contributing to consumers' correct information is also extremely important. The Institute's nutritionists are often addressing questions on healthy diets and lifestyle, sometimes arising from contradictory information in the media. By translating complex or controversial scientific issues in a way that is understandable to the non-expert, the IHCP researchers are empowering consumers to make best informed nutritional and lifestyle choices.