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Nutrition: From Bare Necessity to Essential Component of Disease Management

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EPF is currently developing a Position Statement on information to patients on food and nutrition. The document will build on our previous work on the area of nutrition and will be a stepping-stone towards a closer focus in 2018.

Back in 2013, EPF, the European Nutrition for Health Alliance’s (ENHA) and the Network for Medical Research and Health (EGAN) co-drafted the first patient agenda on nutrition in the publication ‘Patient Perspectives on Nutrition’. This document highlights that nutrition is a vital part of health and can work both preventatively but also as an enabler for disease management. Unfortunately, nutrition is not an integral part of the disease management process yet, and many patients with chronic diseases face practical problems because of the incompatibility of nutritional needs with their disease or condition.

The same consortium of organisations held the “EU Patient Group Conference on Nutrition”, earlier this year (29 June 2017) in Brussels. The conference explored the current works of various patient organisations in the field of nutrition in relation to prevention, treatment and management of disease, and discuss potential future steps. A number of EU Patient Groups reported on their main concerns, challenges and solutions for nutritional issues within their communities. They called for more information to patients and citizens when it comes to the allergens and nutrients food contains as well as for information regarding the interaction of nutrition with the disease. This can be achieved by regulatory requirements that need to be stricter or by taking patients’ perspectives into account and further research on specific topics; very often disease specific information on nutrition is missing. Lastly, an issue highlighted by many participants was the lack of reimbursement for patients that need to rely on certain foods because of their disease.

Many of the speakers had experience with medical nutrition or used nutrition to manage their disease. The debate was followed by an open discussion in order to come up with recommendations and future actions, epitomised by EPF President Marco Greco: ‘We need to design a comprehensive therapeutic plan that is really tailor made, not only from the medical nutritional point of view but appropriate enough to give the patient a concrete chance of getting back his / her life’.

Next steps

EPF will now develop a “Position Statement on information to patients on food and nutrition” which will be published by the end of the year. We will keep you updated on the process.

Any questions? Interested in taking part in the EPF work on nutrition. Please contact policy@eu-patient.eu.