Strength of EU-level food environment policies and priority recommendations to create healthy food environments
S. K. Djojosoeparto; C. B. M. Kamphuis; S. Vandevijvere; C. Murrin; I. Stanley; P. Romaniuk; J. M. Harrington; M. P. Poelman
Year of publication
Eur J Public Health
BACKGROUND: Food environments impact on diets, obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Government policies are essential to create healthy food environments. This study aimed to assess the strength of European Union (EU)-level policies, and identify and prioritize actions for the EU to create healthy food environments. METHODS: The Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) was applied. The Food-EPI included 26 policy and 24 infrastructure support indicators. Independent experts (n = 31) rated the strength of EU-level policies and infrastructure support for each of these indicators (on a 5-point scale, from very weak to very strong) and identified and prioritized actions to improve food environments. RESULTS: For 65% of the 26 policy indicators, EU-level policies were rated as weak and for 23% as very weak. For 63% of the 24 infrastructure support indicators, EU-level policies were rated as moderate and for 33% as weak. The experts recommended 18 policy and 19 infrastructure support actions to the EU. The Top 5 prioritized policy actions included three actions in the food composition domain (e.g. setting mandatory food composition targets), one action in the food prices domain and one action in the food promotion domain. The Top 5 prioritized infrastructure support actions included three actions in the leadership domain (e.g. developing a high-level NCDs Prevention Strategy) and two actions in the monitoring domain. CONCLUSIONS: There is large potential for the EU to strengthen its policies and infrastructure support in order to improve food environments. This study specifies priority actions for the EU to create healthy food environments.