Source: V.P. (Vytenis) Andriukaitis i, published on Monday, November 14 2016.

Last month Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, released two interesting health reports. Today, on World Diabetes Day, I would like to underline some of the Eurostat's findings.

The first report, on the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the EU, reveals that only one in seven people over the age of 15 in the EU eats the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. What is more, one out of every three of us does not eat any fruit or vegetables every day. This is worrying, as a diet rich in fruit and vegetables contributes to helping to ward off preventable chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

The second report looks into obesity rates in the EU and reveals that almost one in six European adults (15.9%) is obese, and taken together overweight and obese adults account for over 50% of the population.

Obesity is a rising concern in the whole of the EU, as it contributes to type 2 diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases. I find rising obesity rates amongst children particularly worrying as children who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of poor health later in life.

Both of these reports have implications for diabetes. If we want to avoid raising a generation of children who are fat for life and on the path to developing diabetes, we must instil a taste for healthy foods at the youngest age.

Healthy choices should become more available to our children. This is our common responsibility. Simple acts are in the hands of all of us - parents, teachers, decision and policy makers. For instance, I would love to see fruits and vegetables in the vending machines in schools instead of sugary drinks and sweets. There are actually numerous imaginative ways of encouraging children to eat vegetables and healthy, vegetable-rich meals are not necessarily expensive or difficult to prepare.

I would like to highlight an inspiring project called "We Love Eating" which promotes healthy national recipes - along with a number of other actions. This project has been piloted in seven EU cities and is now extending to others. It works with three main target groups: children, pregnant women and older people, promoting a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, and a healthy lifestyle overall.

EU-financed projects, such as this one, are part of the wider, multifaceted approach necessary to tackle poor nutrition and obesity. The Action Plan on Childhood obesity[1], which aims to halt the rise of childhood obesity by 2020, includes promoting healthier diets in school and pre-school, and making the healthy option the easy option, amongst its objectives. In parallel, the Commission is working together with Member States on the common objective of reformulating food products to contain less salt, fats or sugars.

Today on World Diabetes Day let us all make an effort to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in our and our families' diets. This is an easy and delicious way to curb our calorie intake, maintain a healthy weight, and help ward off diabetes.

For more information:

[1] Adopted by the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2014.