Policy interventions to encourage healthy eating in European member states have included prohibitions on advertising certain foods to children, promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption, nutrition labelling, dialogue with the food industry to improve food product composition, regulation of school meals and public sector canteens to ensure healthy food offerings. To date, these have not been systematically evaluated.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a clear rationale for further government involvement in food choice. Obesity, driven partly by food choice, now accounts for between 5 and 7% of total health care costs in the EU. In addition to its contribution via obesity, poor dietary quality directly contributes to a range of preventable diseases that raise health care costs.” Obesity has been estimated to cost the EU some €70 billion annually through health care costs and lost productivity.

The new 3 year 2.5 million euros European research project, EATWELL, led by the University of Reading, will, for the first time, catalogue these interventions, evaluating what has worked well and why. It will investigate how the public sector can effectively market promising dietary interventions to the population, and what attitudinal barriers may be faced in implementation in the range of countries.

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