Nutrition and health

Nutrition and health

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Nutrition and health


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Public health > Health determinants: lifestyle

Nutrition and health

Document or Iniciative

Council Resolution of 14 December 2000 on health and nutrition [Official Journal C20 of 23 January 2001].


The Resolution focuses on integrating nutritional health not only into the programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008), but also into other Community policies with an impact on nutritional health, e.g. agriculture.

The Council takes the view that a nutritional health policy of this kind should involve all those concerned, including professionals in the sector, consumers, NGOs, etc. It should also take into account training for these parties, where necessary.

The Resolution emphasises the importance of nutrition as a key determinant of human health. Poor diet is one of the main causes of many illnesses, such as cardio-vascular disease. Recent phenomena, such as the significant rise in obesity, especially in children and adolescents, and changes in eating habits in favour of mass catering and pre-prepared foods, are only making the situation worse. The Council takes the view that more national and European-scale action is needed to tackle this threat to health, the associated social costs and the lack of reliable and accessible information on nutritional issues.

Against this background, the Council calls on the Member States to:

  • promote healthy eating habits and attitudes so that all citizens can make informed food choices;
  • involve all the parties concerned in the discussion and promotion of nutritional health;
  • continue to develop the production, dissemination and implementation of nutritional health recommendations based on sound scientific knowledge;
  • improve the nutritional knowledge of health professionals and those working in the field of food and nutrition;
  • participate actively in the data collection networks on nutrition and physical activity in the Community;
  • encourage national experts to participate in Community activities, and in particular to produce scientific evidence.

In its white paper on food safety, the Commission envisages inter alia the establishment of a global, consistent nutrition policy, as well as the presentation of an action plan on nutrition and recommendations for dietary guidelines. The Council also calls on the Commission to:

  • allow for nutritional health to be taken into account when drawing up and implementing any relevant Community policies and develop tools for assessing the impact of other Community policies on nutritional health;
  • continue to develop tools to monitor nutritional health and its determinants, in order to obtain comparable data and ensure regular assessment of these data. This action should complement the work of the Member States, in particular by drawing on their existing tools;
  • support and promote regular exchanges of experience in this field;
  • facilitate the development of scientific evidence in the area of nutritional health in order to update the national and local dietary guidelines and the information given to consumers;
  • support research into the links between health and nutrition, into diet-related diseases, into an understanding of eating and dietary habits and the impact of health and nutrition policies;
  • facilitate the exchange of information on nutrition-related courses and professions;
  • develop the use of nutritional labelling, by adapting it to the needs of consumers, and of other means of providing nutritional information;
  • examine the possibility of conducting projects to promote healthy eating;
  • consider the use of new information technologies to improve the information available to players in this sector and the public;
  • plan follow-up to nutrition activities.

The Council also emphasises the importance of continued cooperation with the relevant international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), in order to avoid duplication.

Related Acts

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 July 2003 on nutrition and health claims made on foods [COM(2003) 424 final – not published in the Official Journal].
The aim of this Proposal is to establish rules for the use of nutrition and health claims on foods, including diet supplements. The objective is to ensure that consumers are given better information on food labels and to ensure that misleading or incomprehensible information is avoided.

The Regulation will bring legal certainty and will deal with these aspects by specifying the conditions for the use of nutrition and health claims, banning certain claims and scientifically evaluating the use of claims on the basis of the nutritional profile of the foods in question.

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