Published in Nutrition
EuroDISH programme to optimise European food and health research

In Europe 86% of deaths and 77% of the disease burden are related to our diets and lifestyles. Scientists are working hard to identify effective interventions, but organising European food and health research in a competitive and collaborative way is essential to turn taxpayer money into benefits for all. According to the European Science Foundation, “about 85 per cent of public research investment goes only to national endeavours.” In response, the new EU-funded project EuroDISH aims to assess the current state of play to eventually make advanced and feasible recommendations to the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures, other stakeholders, and the Horizon2020 programme. A major step along the way is the engagement of policy and decision makers. EuroDISH has created a special forum on its project website at www.eurodish.eu where interested parties can sign up.

The work programme of the EuroDISH consortium is designed along the ‘DISH’ model: ‘Determinants, Intake, Status, and Health’, which represent four key building blocks of the food and health research area and different stages of research infrastructure development. Determining what drives people’s food and lifestyle choices identifies the most promising options for change. This then needs to be linked to people’s current and future dietary intakes, and how these are related to their nutritional status and eventually overall health. Professor Pieter van ’t Veer of Wageningen University and the scientific coordinator of EuroDISH, explains: “To go beyond existing mappings, we will synthesise the results by integrating the needs for hard and soft Research Infrastructures as well as how these may be governed; as this may identify newly emerging gaps and needs, it will define how these gaps can be filled effectively.” Hard Research Infrastructures can be understood as toolkits or technical equipment, whereas soft Research Infrastructures refer to communication networks, methodologies and conceptual frameworks.

EuroDISH will focus on relevant innovation in research elucidating the interplay between lifestyle behaviour, dietary intake and health status, and in public health nutrition strategies across Europe. A major challenge lies in the fact that food and health research includes many disciplines and is a broad research area. EuroDISH intends to overcome this barrier.

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