How far do we have to go back?

As the articles in this newsletter highlight, we are now confronting challenges affecting all our different sectors in the food chain, in nutrition and health. In the more affluent parts of Europe, life expectancy is going up by three months every year – reflecting not only how we live now and our better management of disease, but also our biological responses to this generation’s early feeding practices. In growing up we were much thinner than today’s children and had a very different diet and level of physical activity.

Now healthy living is becoming one of the top issues not only for politicians but also doctors. The whole issue of climate change is being negotiated with huge implications for the food chain and as we foresee the re-negotiation of the Common Agricultural Policy in the European Union. As illustrated in the articles below we have to confront not only the challenge of ageing but also of the diseases which affect us a long time before we finally die. Life expectancy can differ even within a single European country by 10 years, with the poor dying earlier yet living within a kilometre or two of their wealthy neighbours. They also have up to 20 years less of a disability and disease free life and diet is increasingly seen to play an exceptionally important part. Clearly we need to rethink the importance of the Mediterranean diet and some are even considering the Palaeolithic diet which probably had even more fruit and vegetables.

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