Nutrition, a matter of public and private concern
Nutrition is a public health priority. The effects of excessive consumption, sedentary lifestyles and decreasing awareness of healthy eating have led to a steady increase in obesity and diseases connected to poor nutrition. Nevertheless, France remains the country where this phenomenon is progressing most slowly. Alongside the Netherlands and Sweden, France is in fact the country with the lowest levels of child obesity. Several factors play a part in this: eating habits, the large number of awareness raising campaigns, the composition of products.
Thanks to intense government mobilisation, France has had a National Nutrition Health Programme (PNNS) since 2001—now extended to 2006-2010—designed to improve the general health of the entire population by acting on one of its major parameters: nutrition. It has instituted a comprehensive action plan: management of obesity, specific targeting of disadvantaged sections of the population, the promotion of good eating habits and balanced and healthy lifestyles.
Through mobilising all stakeholders—health professionals, of course, but also economic actors in the food industry, voluntary sector and local communities—France is the first European country to have adopted such a strategy.
500 000 "Nutrinauts" to study the relationship between nutrition and health in France!
A world première, involving the monitoring of 500,000 web users over 5 years, the NutriNet-Health study will enable accurate measurement of possible links between eating behaviours and various parameters in order to develop better dietary recommendations. The operation is financed exclusively by public funding (at an estimated total of nearly six million Euros) and involves many institutional partners, including, among others, the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA).
As of May 10, 2010, 12 months after its launch, 131,342 "Nutrinauts" were already participating in the study.
Aware of increasing obesity and consumer health, food industries and agricultural producers are genuine players in this new campaign. Their activities to improve food supplies are enshrined in formal commitments and evaluated by a National Observatory on Food Quality (OQALI). Charters for nutritional improvement commitments have been signed with the government.
Through this voluntary approach, French companies are setting specific quantified targets, with timelines and checks, particularly for reducing salt intake, simple carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, while increasing consumption of complex carbohydrates, fibre, fruit and vegetables.
These activities, jointly conducted by government and food companies, are designed to promote healthier eating habits and reduce obesity and associated diseases. In 2006, 10.5% of in adults France were obese (BMI> 30) while the United States exceeded the threshold of 34%... The French food model, with its three regular daily meals, certainly also contributes to this result. Not to mention a culinary and gastronomic heritage contributing to a varied and balanced diet for all!