The leading global voice
We play a major role in bringing the CV community together to drive transformational change.
Together we are stronger
By 2025, our aim is to reduce premature deaths from CVD by at least 25%.
Join the fight
Become a WHF member and help us to build global commitment to address cardiovascular health at the policy level.
We convene and connect our members
To share science, best practice and resources, acting as a global thought leader and catalyst for positive change.
Celebrate World Heart Day
The biggest global awareness-raising campaign for CVD.
Attend the Congress
Join world leaders in heart health, share ideas, network with specialists.
Advocating for heart health
We lead the global advocacy effort for action to prevent, control and reduce the global burden of CVD.
All our programmes and partnerships are aimed at creating awareness of CVD as a priority issue across the globe.
Find out more about our and our members' work around the world.
Explore everything from toolkits, videos and infographics, to policy reports, factsheets and more.
Dietary risks are responsible for around half of the death and disability caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Europe[i], where this devastating disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women, and where 85 million people live with it.[ii]
On this World Heart Day, the European Heart Network (EHN) publishes a new paper calling for sweeping measures to transform European food policies.
EHN’s paper[iii] Transforming European food and drink policies for cardiovascular health shows that the evidence establishing links between diet and CVD has strengthened since its most recent paper on diet and physical activity was published in 2011.
Careful unpicking of two apparent ‘controversies’, relating to salt and saturated fat, reveals that there is still robust evidence for the advice to limit salt consumption and to replace saturated fat with unsaturated fats or fibre-rich complex carbohydrates.
A cardiovascular health-promoting diet means a shift from an animal-based diet to a more plant-based diet. It includes vegetables, fruit and berries in abundance. Whole-grain products, nuts and seeds, fish, pulses, and low-fat dairy products are also important, as are non-tropical vegetable oils in modest amounts. This everyday dietary pattern limits consumption of red meat, processed meat products and foods or drinks with low content of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre and/or a high content of free sugars, saturated/trans fats or salt.
Every European, irrespective of the place or socio-economic circumstances into which they are born, should be able to live free from avoidable, diet-related CVD. The paper calls for rapid and full implementation of a package of recommendations in order to achieve this vision. Recommendations include: policies to tackle cardiovasuclar health inequalities; supply-side policies (e.g. agricultural policy) and demand-side policies (e.g. food labelling); as well as food composition policies (e.g. mandatory maximum levels of trans fats).
Susanne Løgstrup, Director of the EHN says:
“In a perfect world, people would buy and eat the food that is recommended in dietary guidelines, and markets would respond to consumer demand. But we do not live in a perfect world. Many other forces drive the food supply in today’s complex food systems. Major economic and policy drivers determine what food is produced, what is imported and how foods are marketed. Global and external factors are well beyond the reach of individual governments – let alone individuals.
However, there are different points along the food chain where policymakers can take action to improve diets. Such action has great potential to prevent avoidable diet-related death and disease caused by CVD and may help address the associated financial burden, estimated to cost the EU economy a steep €102 billion annually.”
Read EHN’s new paper here
Sources used in the press release:
[i] Data from the Global Burden of Disease database (2015) https://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare/.
[ii] Wilkins E, Wilson L, Wickramasinghe K, Bhatnagar P, Leal J, Luengo-Fernandez R, Burns R, Rayner M, Townsend N (2017). European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2017. European Heart Network, Brussels
[iii] EHN’s fifth paper dedicated to diet and its impact on CVD
WCTOH Late Breaker Sessions announced
NCDs and Physical Activity Top the Agenda at WHO Executive Board
50th International Teaching Seminar on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention