FAO: Hidden Health-Related Costs In EU’s Food Systems Amount To €1.6T Per Year

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News in brief:
– EU food systems’ hidden health costs at €1.6 trillion annually, far higher than previously thought.
– Unhealthy diets cost the bloc €1.3 trillion per year in lost productivity and healthcare expenses.

A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has found that the hidden health-related costs of the European Union’s food systems are far higher than previously thought.

The report, presented in Brussels on November 6, estimates that the hidden costs of the EU’s food systems amount to €1.6 trillion annually. This figure is significantly higher than previous estimates, which have typically focused on the environmental costs of food production.

The FAO says that the high cost of unhealthy diets is a major factor driving the increase in hidden costs.

It found that 82% of the hidden costs of the EU’s food systems are due to unhealthy diets which cause a range of health problems like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

Subsequently, the report estimates that these health problems alone cost the bloc’s economy €1.3 trillion per year in lost productivity and healthcare expenses.

Furthermore, the food agency suggested ways to reduce the hidden health-related costs of the EU’s food systems. Some of the possible solutions are promoting healthier diets, reducing food waste, and improving food safety.

Additionaly, the EU loses €170 billion per year to food waste, while foodborne diseases cost €23 billion per year. The environmental damage in Europe, including greenhouse gas (GHG) and nitrogen emissions, blue water use, and ecosystem degradation, is estimated at $500 billion.

Slovakia, Hungary and Poland are the EU member states with the highest quantified hidden costs relative to the value of their agrifood production.

The FAO advises the EU to take urgent action to address these hidden costs and invest in policies that promote healthy diets, reduce food waste, and improve food safety.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.

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