The Importance of a Well-Balanced Diet for Mental Health
Mental illnesses such as depression affect approximately 30 million people each year and thus represent a major challenge for all European health systems. Moreover, the financial burden of mental health disorders costs the European Union an estimated €170 billion annually with great impacts on the economy, hence also impacts employers including SMEs alike. This places a heavy load on individuals, families, and society in general, making it an important disorder to prevent. As the awareness of depression grows, the link between nutrition and mental health issues are not well recognised by the public. With our dietary pattern relying more and more on convenient, industrially prepared and energy-dense food, we put ourselves at increased risk of Non-communicable diseases including mental health disorders. Multiple studies have found an important connection between an unbalanced diet high in refined sugar and impaired brain function such as depression and anxiety. Contrary, the linkage between healthy dietary pattern including high intakes of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and the reduced risk of mental health issues, have been investigated. Therefore, strengthened action and advocacy on the role of nutrition and mental health-related issues are needed enabling added support for current diet- and NCD policies in the EU. An integrated approach reflecting equally the impacts of biological factors, broader psychology, emotional and social conceptions of mental health in which diet is the cornerstone, is vital to lower the prevalence of mental health problems.
The SME Connect Initiative Healthy Lifestyle at Work & Home will bring together in this webcast stakeholders, academics, organisations, and decision-makers to discuss the connection between nutrition and depression as well as how nutrition can be effectively integrated into public health strategies to protect and improve mental health and emotional wellbeing.
WELCOME & OPENINGJOSIANNE CUTAJAR MEP
ITRE Committee; Member of MEP Alliance for Mental Health; Supporter of SME Connect Initiative Healthy Lifestyle at Work &Home
IntroductionTomislav Sokol MEP
IMCO, REGI & BECA Committee; Member of MEP Alliance for Metal Health; Member of European Food Forum
President, Union des Sportifs Professionnels et de Haut NiveauProf. Marjolein Visser
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
REMARKSPROF. DR. MARION FLECHTNER-MORS
Nutritionist, Ulm University HospitalStefanie Offe
Health & Nutrition Policy Officer with SME Connect
MODERATIONDR. HORST HEITZ
SME Connect Steering Committee Chair
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