Monitoring dietary habits and food environments for better nutrition policies
A healthy diet is an important factor for a healthy and long life. For example, there is a direct link between obesity and chronic diseases (such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, various cancers) and our dietary habits (such as excessive intake of sodium, saturated fats and sugars). In addition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also cause deficiency diseases (so called as they are caused by a nutrient deficiency), such as osteoporosis, anemia or fatigue. Food environments (i.e. food accessibility, availability, affordability and marketing) are major determinants of dietary habits and hence need to be taken into account into research and monitoring efforts.
The Nutrition and Health Unit supports the development and implementation of nutrition policies at local, national and international levels to effectively and equitably improve the quality of population diets, and ensure equitable access to healthy foods for all.
To do so, we conduct research and monitoring in the following areas:
- Monitoring the food consumption and nutritional status of the Belgian population, including that of vulnerable groups
- Monitoring the nutritional quality of the food supply in Belgium
- Estimating the contribution of dietary factors to the burden of disease in Belgium
- Modelling of the potential effects of policies on diets and health of the population and various population groups (cf. Health Impact Assessment)
- Examining the role of food environments in determining dietary habits and how to hold governments and food businesses accountable for their actions in order to create healthy food environments;
- Evaluating the impact of existing nutrition policies such as the Nutriscore and the Convention for a balanced diet
- Sustainable diets and food systems
- International nutrition and supporting research on food environments, obesity and Non-Communicable Disease prevention in the Global South