Press release: Bringing researchers and tools onto one DISH to optimise European food and health research

Brussels, 20 March 2013 -- 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 (ESFRI), 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 newly launched project website at 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.

“We will develop a roadmap for implementing the most important Research Infrastructures. It will include links with basic and human science as well as integration and collaboration with industry”, says Dr. Krijn Poppe of LEI Wageningen UR who is heading the project management team.

To ensure its recommendations are truly feasible, EuroDISH will perform two case studies designed to test pilot RIs for pan-EU nutritional surveillance and for innovative studies into the links between the four DISH building blocks.

Casper Zulim de Swarte, project manager of the Joint Programming Initiative ’A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ (JPI-HDHL) invites policymakers to closely follow the EuroDISH project and join the debate through the forum created specifically for this purpose on the new EuroDISH website. He says “We are very much looking forward to receiving the recommendations from EuroDISH to take on board in the future development of the JPI-HDHL. EuroDISH will help European food and health research become the success it deserves to be.”


Notes to editors

The project EuroDISH (“Study on the need for food and health research infrastructures”) is a Coordination and Support Action funded under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, Theme KBBE.2012.2.2-02, Grant agreement no: 311788. It started on 1 September 2012 and is planned to run for 3 years.

EuroDISH is dual-led, split into clear responsibilities but combined within the same organisation, Wageningen UR. The Project Coordinator is Dr. Krijn Poppe of LEI Wageningen UR (juridically the Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (DLO), The Netherlands, part of Wageningen UR). The Scientific Coordinator is Professor Pieter van ’t Veer of Wageningen University (WU, The Netherlands, part of Wageningen UR).

The consortium of 15 partners from seven countries covers a wide range of areas of expertise. The partners represent the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy and Sweden. EUFIC is responsible for the communication and dissemination of EuroDISH results and activities.

Media contact:

Karin Zimmermann, BSc, RM
LEI Wageningen UR
Research area Consumer & Behaviour
P.O. Box 29703
NL-2502 LS The Hague
The Netherlands
Phone: +31 70 3358185
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