Good habits are acquired early - local leaders call for healthy nutrition to be taught in pre schools  

An appeal by the regions for the promotion of a healthy, balanced diet and the tightening of rules on the advertising of unhealthy foods to children was adopted at the external meeting of the NAT Commission in Pylos.

The Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) of the European Committee of the Regions met in Pylos to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing local and regional authorities in raising public awareness of the need for healthy nutrition. The message was clear: children should be educated from an early age about the need to avoid unhealthy foods and instead eat enough fruit, vegetables and dairy products. The NAT Commission seminar was organised by Nikolaos Chiotakis (EL/EPP), member of Kifissia Municipal Council, in connection with the preparation of the CoR's opinion on Local and regional incentives to promote healthy and sustainable diets, for which he was rapporteur

 

Mr Chiotakis highlighted that local and regional incentives to promote healthy and at the same time sustainable food choices are crucial. Rapporteur addressed the importance of educational programs in schools in order to promote healthy and active lifestyle, with a special focus on pre-school and primary levels, where the foundations of eating patterns are laid. "Since children are our future citizens, Healthy patterns of eating are very important to prevent chronic illnesses". In the opinion the rapporteur stressed the importance for health of consuming fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and wholegrain cereals.

Representatives of local and regional authorities carefully consider the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), with a particular focus on online advertising, and against the marketing of unhealthy foods, as well as calling for regular information campaigns on healthy diets, active lifestyles and the promotion of healthy eating habits, such as the Mediterranean diet.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that today one in three children in Europe is overweight or obese. According to experts, one of the reasons for this state of affairs is that children and young people are increasingly exposed to marketing messages in the media promoting foods high in sugar, salt and fat.

In addition, according to experts, the problem is that today it is mainly food producers themselves who decide which of their products are sufficiently healthy to be advertised as suitable for children. For this reason among others, local policy-makers are calling on the European Commission to propose a single European colour labelling system to be used on the front of food packaging throughout the EU, providing consumers with clear information on the sugar, salt and fat content of food.

The NAT Commission representatives discussed a range of local-level initiatives, such as public procurement in the food sector for all public bodies (including hospitals, nursing homes, retirement homes, schools, prisons and their canteens), together with local measures in favour of breastfeeding

Crucial aspects are the need to support young farmers, stimulate and sustain the development of small, socially aware farms, as well as the development of food networks, including farmers' markets, where local producers offer healthy, high-quality food directly to consumers at reasonable prices.

The meeting also discussed the needs and potential of Europe's regions in the area of coastal and maritime tourism, issues that form part of the EU's blue growth strategy. The discussion was based on recent work by the European Committee of the Regions showing that the majority of European local and regional authorities are aware of the value of tourism. Regional initiatives for coastal and maritime regions often differ in their nature, ranging from trekking and cycle paths, via fishing and angling, city trips and culinary activities, to traditional beach holidays. A common feature of all coastal and maritime regions and cities is the numerous challenges such as seasonality, environmental pressures, planning and access to capital. Solving these challenges would allow decision-makers to push the sector forward and unlock its additional potential.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Europe was the most visited region in the world in 2016. Coastal and maritime tourism is the largest sub-sector of tourism, providing employment for nearly 3.2 million people. Around one third of all tourism activity in Europe takes place in coastal regions, and around 51% of bed capacity in hotels across Europe is concentrated in regions with a sea border.

During the external meeting a NAT commission conference was also held on Olive oil, the basis of the Mediterranean diet and a valuable ally for health.

Additional information:

WHO recommendations on sustainable food choices

Tackling food marketing to children in a digital world

The CoR's NAT Commission has drawn up the following opinions on promoting balanced nutrition:

The CoR's NAT Commission has drawn up the following opinions on developing coastal and maritime tourism:

 

Contact:

Wioletta Wojewodzka

Tel.: +32 473 843 986
wioletta.wojewodzka@cor.europa.eu