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Document 52004XG0127(01)

Council Conclusions of 2 December 2003 on healthy lifestyles: education, information and communication

OJ C 22, 27.1.2004, p. 1–2 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)


Council Conclusions of 2 December 2003 on healthy lifestyles: education, information and communication

Official Journal C 022 , 27/01/2004 P. 0001 - 0002

Council Conclusions

of 2 December 2003

on healthy lifestyles: education, information and communication

(2004/C 22/01)


1. RECALLS that one of the objectives of the programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008) is to promote health and prevent disease through addressing health determinants across all policies and activities, in particular by preparing and implementing strategies and measures, including those related to public awareness, on life-style related health determinants;

2. RECALLS a series of measures and pronouncements adopted by the Community which support healthy lifestyles, for example in the fields of tobacco control and alcohol harm reduction and of nutrition, and reiterates its attachment to the objectives pursued therein;

3. RECOGNISES the major and growing contribution of unhealthy lifestyles to disease burden. Improving the health status of the population is therefore a major objective in the Member States and the Acceding Countries. Not only could healthier lifestyles result in better health and reduction of disease and injuries, but in an environment of increasing health care costs, better prevention is an excellent investment and a very cost-effective approach;

4. UNDERLINES that a policy focus on lifestyles would be more effective in the long term when supported by simultaneous emphasis on the creation of healthy environments and on the availability of healthy choices in domains outside the public health sector. Areas with a major influence on people's health include social security, availability of and conditions for work, housing, physical environment and healthy nutrition;

5. RECOGNISES that initiatives to improve the health status of the population should take into particular account the need to reduce economic and social inequalities by ensuring that all activities with the aim of influencing life styles take into account those economic and social groups which are at particular risk;

6. TAKES NOTE of the results of the questionnaire survey carried out by the Italian Presidency on health policies, lifestyles and public communication in Europe which show, inter alia, the commitment of Member States and Acceding Countries to promoting healthy lifestyles, and a considerable similarity in their overall strategies for increasing public information and awareness in spite of the different approaches and priorities adopted in a number of programmes;

7. WELCOMES the conclusions and recommendations of the Conference on "Healthy Lifestyles: Education, Information and Communication", jointly organised by the Italian Presidency and the European Commission in Milan from 3 to 4 September 2003;

8. NOTES in particular the conclusions of the Conference regarding the impact of lifestyles on health, the need for a comprehensive approach, including enabling, to healthy lifestyles and the importance of lifestyles monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment;

9. STRESSES the essential roles of education (particularly of children at school), information and communication, in the context of wider policies, in the critical task of motivating and, indeed, enabling and helping citizens to adopt more healthy lifestyles;

10. HIGHLIGHTS the importance of an integrated setting-oriented approach (for example, in schools and workplaces) for promoting healthy lifestyles;

11. RECOGNISES that it is necessary to ensure the involvement of all stakeholders in building up a "social awareness" of the importance of healthy lifestyles, particularly with respect to children and other groups at risk, and in promoting positive role models and counteracting misleading forms of advertising and marketing, which could encourage an unhealthy lifestyle;

12. STRESSES the importance of strengthening links between efforts to adopt healthy lifestyles and other Community policies, such as the social, environment, agriculture, transport, and product taxation areas. On the occasion of the adoption of new or revised Community legislation with a health impact (for example, in the fields of tobacco, food safety and labelling, health claims, sales promotion, Television Without Frontiers, etc.), synergies could be sought with healthy lifestyles;

13. WELCOMES the Commission's recent decision to establish a Working Group on Healthy Lifestyles which will, with the participation of Member State experts, contribute to improving the collection and diffusion of data, information and knowledge relating to that theme;

14. WELCOMES the Commission's commitment to continue and reinforce its ongoing work under the Health Determinants' strand of the programme of Community action in the field of public health to ensure that there is effective overall co-ordination of relevant activities, including gathering available best practice, developing evaluation tools, and advising the Member States;

15. INVITES the European Commission and Member States to develop and periodically update, especially within the framework of the programme of Community action in the field of public health, a plan on the following initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles:

- contributing to promoting in a positive manner the adoption by citizens of healthy lifestyles by setting up a series of actions based on research-derived evidence of effective interventions and involving Member States, international organisations and other stakeholders;

- determining appropriate messages to be conveyed to the public, health professionals, policy-makers and other stakeholders, and improving the effective communication of those messages;

- strengthening the monitoring on the impact of health determinants, and producing timely and reliable data on a comparable basis;

- mobilising certain instruments of the Programme through the groups and networks already in place or to be created(1). These could be complemented by contributions from relevant stakeholders, such as the scientific and medical community, general practitioners, pharmacists, nurses, dentists and other frontline health interventionists, patients' representatives, the educational and leisure sectors and communication specialists; and

- considering, on the basis of advice from the topic-specific groups within the Programme, how best to:

- apply experience gained in combating tobacco consumption (such as experience to be derived from the evaluation of the tobacco-free Europe campaign) to other areas (for example, obesity and alcohol harm reduction);

- use commonly developed and validated messages in European, national and regional campaigns in a consistent way to maximise impact in a manner consistent with other initiatives at European or world level;

- work with the EU Health Portal and Community agencies such as the Lisbon Drugs Agency, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency to support the exchange of information and improve visibility for the process of encouraging the choice of healthy lifestyles;

- associate the WHO and other concerned international organisations fully with this process;

- encouraging manufacturers and other relevant commercial enterprises to contribute, where appropriate, to the efforts to promote healthy lifestyles through their production, marketing and other related activities.

16. INVITES the Member States to share information with the Commission, international organisations such as the WHO and non-governmental groups, on long-term planning and co-ordination of activities and interventions with a view to identifying and exploiting synergies, facilitating planning of scientific advice and making the best possible use of available resources;

17. INVITES the Commission, on the basis of the development of this process and of the concrete experience gained in this field, to consider how best to facilitate Member States' continuing commitment to the process of promoting and enabling healthy lifestyles in a measurable way.

(1) e.g. DG SANCO Alcohol working group, Network on Nutrition and Physical Activity, the Community Health Forum, Eurohealthnet, DAFNE, workplace health promotion network, the Health Promoting Schools Network and the Network of Competent Authorities in Health Information.