Celebrating national nutrition day in Spain: Promoting sustainable eating for a healthier future

by Lorraine Williamson
national nutricion day
ASSSA

Today, May 28th, marks National Nutrition Day in Spain. This is celebrated under the theme: “Sustainable Eating is Life” (Alimentación sostenible es vida).

This day underscores the importance of adopting healthy and sustainable eating habits across all socio-economic levels to reduce health inequalities. Therefore, this is a key goal of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN).

AESAN’s commitment to a healthier Spain

AESAN is dedicated to promoting healthy, safe, and sustainable diets that benefit both individual health and the environment. This approach aims to improve the quality of life while reducing the risk of diseases and the associated economic costs. Consequently, here are some of the key initiatives undertaken by AESAN:

Observatory of nutrition and obesity studies

This observatory monitors the nutritional status of the population and serves as a platform for all involved stakeholders. The fifth edition of the ALADINO study (2023), part of the WHO’s COSI initiative, is nearing completion. Results will be published in 2024 .

Dietary and physical activity recommendations

AESAN’s latest recommendations, based on recent scientific evidence, are central to the “Eat Healthy, Move, and Care for the Planet” campaign. Educational materials, like the Healthy Eating Plate, support this initiative .

Guidance for sustainable menus in elderly care centres

Guidelines have been developed to create nutritious and environmentally sustainable menus tailored to the needs of elderly residents in care centres

School food programs

The National Food Chain Control Plan (PNCOCA 2021-2025) includes a program to ensure that school menus, vending machines, and cafeterias promote healthy and sustainable food choices. This program is being strengthened through new regulatory measures .

Early childhood nutrition

A working group is developing a consensus document on healthy and sustainable eating for children aged 0-3, in collaboration with regional authorities and other ministries .

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School health promotion

AESAN contributes to the School Health Promotion Guide and participates in the School Fruit, Vegetables, and Milk Program to promote free distribution of these foods in schools .

Regulation of unhealthy food advertising

A new royal decree is being drafted to restrict advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages to children .

  • Food reformulation initiatives: AESAN is creating a database of food compositions to set new reformulation targets, aiming to improve the dietary habits of the Spanish population.
  • Energy drink consumption among youth: Following recommendations published in 2022, AESAN is evaluating potential legislative measures to address the public health issue of energy drink consumption among young people.
  • International collaboration: AESAN’s actions align with international recommendations, participating in WHO networks to reduce salt, sugar, and calorie intake and in EU-funded initiatives against cancer and other non-communicable diseases .
  • School canteen awareness campaign: The “#LaAsignaturaPendiente” campaign, launched in November 2023, focuses on raising awareness about the importance of healthy school meals.
  • NAOS strategy awards: These annual awards highlight and promote the best practices in healthy and sustainable eating and physical activity .

A Holistic approach to nutrition

AESAN collaborates with various entities to identify and implement measures that enhance access to healthy food equitably. This comprehensive approach includes active participation in the National Strategic Plan for Reducing Childhood Obesity. This initiative aims to foster healthier eating habits from a young age.

As we celebrate National Nutrition Day, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on how sustainable eating habits can significantly impact our health and the environment. AESAN’s initiatives are paving the way towards a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable future for all Spaniards.

For more information on AESAN’s projects and resources, visit their website.


References:

  1. AESAN Website
  2. AESAN Dietary Recommendations

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