Press release - March 2021
Best-ReMaP – fighting the alarming reality of childhood obesity with sound nutrition policies and best practices
We as Europeans are faced with a distressing fact: nearly 1 in 4 kids in Europe are overweight or obese. One reason behind this is an unhealthy diet. In the first years of life — when learning is constantly taking place — food preferences are also forming. Most are learned, but some are intuitive. A child’s food preferences directly affect eating behaviour, which then has a direct effect on overall health, wellness, and the possibility of obesity forming.
As children become older, they are exposed to unhealthy foods, which is mainly caused by inappropriate advertising – a currently unregulated area in Europe – and the easy availability of processed and ultra-processed foods high in salt, sugar and fat at home or in public institutions, where they spend a considerable part of their time.
WHO WE ARE
Best-ReMaP is a European Union financed joint action on diet and nutrition with a special focus on children. The project started in October, 2020 and will run for 3 years. The main aim is to adapt, replicate and implement practices that have been proven to work in the areas of re-designing the composition of processed food (food reformulation), food marketing and public procurement of foods in public settings, such as kindergartens, schools and hospitals.
Our project teams and leading organisations include Slovenia’s National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), Semmelweis University (Hungary), the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italy), French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), the Directorate-General of Health of Portugal and Irish Department of Health leading a total of 36 partner organisations from 24 EU Member States representing national governmental bodies, municipalities, academia and European policy organisations.
WHAT WE WANT TO ACHIEVE
Best-ReMaP aims to support EU Member States in adopting and implementing policies on childhood nutrition based on evidence and research. The project strives to contribute to an increased offer and consumption of healthier foods by:
- reducing salt, sugar and fat content in processed and ultra-processed foods available in EU (super)markets;
- sharing and promoting best practices on how to implement a standardised European monitoring system for processed food reformulation;
- reducing the impact of harmful marketing of unhealthy foods to children by identifying best policy practices and developing common protocols to monitor the marketing exposure of children;
- contributing to a higher quality of menus by improving the transparency and quality of the procured foods in public institutions;
- producing the European Food Information Database with the working title “JRC food database”;
- providing new information to networks of organisations with the highest influence and interest in the field of nutrition at national and EU levels.
As Henrietta Fore (UNICEF Executive Director) once said: “If children eat poorly, they live poorly.” Only by coming together and working together can we ensure that every European has knowledge of and easy access to good nutrition.