Seminars & Report Launches

The Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) European Union March 2021

5 Mar 2021
March 2021

Co-authored by Dr Janas M Harrington, School of Public Health, UCC 

An assessment of EU-level policies influencing food environments and priority actions to create healthy food environments in the EU.

Overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a major public health challenge in Europe.

Suboptimal diets are key contributors to increasing the risk of these diseases and thereby affect the health and economic systems of all European Member States.

In addition, in most European countries socioeconomic inequalities in obesity and dietary patterns are evident. Population diets are influenced by food environments in European Member States.



Food environments are the physical (food availability, quality, marketing), economic (food prices), policy (rules and food policies) and sociocultural (norms and beliefs) surroundings, opportunities and conditions that influence people’s food choices and nutritional status. Food environments do not always ensure that the healthy food option is the easiest or default option. Government policies have the potential to support the promotion of healthy diets, empower populations to make healthier choices and reduce levels of overweight, obesity and NCDs by creating supportive food environments.

Yet, little is known on how European Union (EU)-level policies affect national food environment policies in EU Member States. Also, little is known on how the EU could improve its policies to create healthy food environments in EU Member States.

The aims of this research, applying the EU Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI), are:

1. To provide an overview of EU-level policies with a direct or indirect (potential) influence on food environments;

2. To assess the strength of EU-level policies and infrastructure support and identify implementation gaps, by non-government, independent experts;

3. To identify and prioritise policy and infrastructure support actions to create healthy food environments in the EU taking into account importance, achievability and equity, by nongovernment, independent experts.

To read the Report, click here.

For more on this story contact:

Dr Janas Harrington


Janas Harrington Headshot

School of Public Health

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