Photo: Kiril Konstantinov (EU2018BG)
Healthy nutrition for children was the topic of an international conference at expert level within the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, held on 6 February 2018 in Sofia.
"The future of a competitive Europe is unthinkable without a healthy and educated young generation. That is why Bulgaria offers a discussion on a matter that is relevant to the whole European Union," Deputy Minister of Health Jeni Nacheva told the participants.
Jeni Nacheva, Deputy Minister of Health, photo: Kiril Konstantinov (EU2018BG)
"Bulgaria has a programme for the prevention of chronic non-infectious diseases, which addresses all the risk factors - junk food, smoking, and alcohol. We also have a detailed regulatory framework that regulates food in kindergartens and schools. We believe that more can always be done - to influence the attitudes of society, school and family, to work together with all sectors. That is why it is important for us to jointly seek solutions with other countries. This is for us the added value of cooperation in the European Union", Minister Nacheva added.
The success of prevention policies depends on the availability of foods that are healthy and accessible, participants in the forum stressed. They noted that as part of this priority, health and agriculture must work together.
"One of the most important nutrition challenges is overweight and obesity among the population, especially among children", said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Tsvetan Dimitrov. "The necessary actions and measures to address these problems are already underpinned by existing national prophylactic programmes. The Bulgarian Parliament is soon expected to adopt a new Food Law whose primary objective is to ensure a high level of protection of the health and interests of consumers in relation to food. The law also covers aspects related to the advertising of foods and beverages contributing to unhealthy eating patterns for children. "
Minister Nacheva called for continued dialogue with the producers and the food industry about healthy nutrition for children. "We are open to dialogue with them in order to identify solutions and find a balance between ambitious and realistic goals. A platform for these talks at the national level will also be the recently created board of nutrition with the Minister of Health."
World Health Organisation surveys show that the level of obesity in 7-year-old girls in Bulgaria decreased in 2016 compared to 2013. Recommendations at European level are to keep these values steady by 2020 and reduce them wherever possible.
"The easiest choice is the healthy one," said John Ryan, Director at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety.
John Ryan, Director at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, photo: Kiril Konstantinov (EU2018BG)
He outlined as key priorities the EU's common actions to reduce childhood obesity, the role of healthy eating in the prevention of chronic diseases and the implementation of best practices in providing nutrition to children.
Under the Bulgarian Presidency, EU legislators will negotiate a draft directive on audiovisual media that includes requirements for the advertising and marketing of foods intended for children.
For additional information:
Zlatimira Dobreva, spokesperson for the Bulgarian Ministry of Health:
Tel. +32 2 2358 402
Mob. +32 473 355 303