Author: Hayley Every

Food4Health Project STOP MetSyn

Using indicators to influence consumer behaviour and prevent pre-disease through food and lifestyle-related interventions

Metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) represents a clustering of conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and diabetes. MetSyn is present in approximately 25% of all adults with increased prevalence in advanced ages. What is commonly unknown is that having MetSyn increases the risk of developing other serious diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. Many people exhibit risk factors but are not even aware of their condition.

MetSyn and related diseases have become the major health hazard of the modern world. Such diseases contribute to 41 million deaths each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. The two major factors contributing to MetSyn are the increased consumption of high calorie-low fibre fast food and the decrease in physical activity due to sedentary form of work and leisure time activities. Therefore, by changing consumer behaviour, MetSyn can be prevented thus reducing this major health threat to European citizens.

Given the high prevalence of MetSyn in association with the general lack of awareness of the disease, the goal of this project is to gain a better understanding of the indicators that are linked to MetSyn, and develop effective strategies for reversing the disease by

  • Establishing a science-based methodology for measuring pre-metabolic syndrome in Europe
  • Developing a pre-disease prevention program for measuring pre-metabolic syndrome in the broader European community
  • Establishing a strategy to engage the European population to adopt a healthier lifestyle by preventing and tackling pre-metabolic syndrome, and
  • Performing a real-life test in Europe combining measurement, tooling, and strategies to engage and coach consumers towards a healthier lifestyle.

Consumer survey on diet and lifestyle

Do consumers consider themselves to be healthy?

In December 2019, Food4Health conducted a survey with consumers regarding the choices they make in their diet and lifestyle. We were interested to know whether consumers consider themselves to be healthy, whether they know what they need to change to become healthier and if they are willing to make the change in the short term. Two hundred adult citizens completed the survey of 10 questions about their health and lifestyle.

When asked how healthy they feel, almost 2/3 of the participants responded that they felt pretty or very healthy with less than 10% indicating that they were not very healthy or very unhealthy. Yet, almost 40% of participants indicated that their diet was just ok with almost 20% responding that it was not very healthy or very unhealthy. In terms of activity, most participants were either moderately or very active (84%). Of the participants who responded, 50% indicated that they would be willing to make a change to become healthier. Proposed changes included eating healthier foods, being more active, eating fewer sweets and less meat. The complete results of the survey can be found here.

Food4Health projects continue in 2020

The project teams will build upon the outcomes from 2019

In the inaugural year of the Cross-KIC Food4Health, EIT Food and EIT Health mobilised major European players from their networks to commit to a shared strategy; to provide European citizens with new food and lifestyle products and services to improve their health.

To initiate the programme, the two projects, STOP MetSyn and MuscleCancer, were launched. Despite having only 4 months to complete the 2019 tasks, the partners successfully realised all deliverables, outputs and KPIs. The project teams will use these outcomes as a basis for the continuation of the projects in 2020.

For the 2020 tasks, 18 partners have once again been selected to work on these projects, many of whom also participated in the 2019 activities. The project partners are as follows:

STOP MetSyn: Achmea (NL), Ets. Franz Colruyt (BE), KU Leuven (BE), RISE (SE), Technical University of Munich (DE), University of Ghent (BE), Université Grenoble Alpes (FR) and University of Reading (UK).

MuscleCancer: AZTI (ES), BeYou (ES), Danone Nutricia Research (FR), Imperial College London (UK), University of Hohenheim (DE), University of Maastricht (NL), University Medical Centre Groningen (NL), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (ES), University of Cologne (DE) and University of Torino (IT).

As the 2020 activities officially started on 1 February, the two projects teams met in late February/early March. During these kick-off meetings, the teams discussed outcomes from 2019 along with the project plans for the rest of the year.

Food4Health finalises the 2nd call for Expressions of Interest

10 tasks were open for applications

On the 23rd October 2019, Food4Health launched the 2nd call for Expressions of Interest for the 10 tasks that will be conducted in the two projects – STOP MetSyn and MuscleCancer – in 2020.

When applications closed on 20 November, 49 Expressions of Interest had been submitted either from individual partners or teams. Applications were received from 34 partners: 12 from EIT Food, 19 from EIT Health and 3 who are partners of both networks. The applicants included universities, research institutes, hospitals and industry partners, representing all regionals hubs from both networks.

As in the first call, the applications were evaluated by an external expert panel using the same criteria and the top-ranked applicants for each task were placed on a shortlist. The selected partners from each list have already been invited to join the project consortia with the intention to officially start the 2020 tasks on 1 February.

With the successful completion of the 2019 tasks, the 2020 tasks are expected to build upon the outcomes from 2019.

Food4Health projects kick-off as new teams meet

18 partners chosen to work on two projects

With project teams confirmed, Food4Health’s first two projects officially launched on 1 September and held their kick-off meetings shortly after: the STOP MetSyn team met 20 September and MuscleCancer met 10 October.

These projects, the first in the new Food4Health programme, aim to address specific health challenges faced by both consumers and patients through the development of nutrition, exercise and lifestyle intervention programmes.

The launch of the STOP MetSyn and MuscleCancer projects is another milestone in bringing together the partners of both EIT Food and EIT Health, who are collaborating in Food4Health. At the two project kick-off meetings, the partners had the opportunity to get to know one another and to align the activities and way of working.

The partners for each project

Of the 18 partners selected to work on these projects, 10 were from EIT Health, seven were from EIT Food and one partner is a member of both networks. The partners taking part in each project are as follows:

STOP MetSyn: Erasmus Medical Centre (NL), Hospital Sant Joan de Déu (ES), Institut Català de la Salut (ES), KU Leuven (BE), OME Health (UK), Pepsico (UK), RISE (SE), University of Ghent (BE), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (ES), and University of Reading (UK).

MuscleCancer: AZTI (ES), Danone Nutricia Research (FR), Imperial College London (UK), Sorbonne Université (FR), University of Hohenheim (DE), University of Maastricht (NL), University Medical Centre Groningen (NL), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (ES), and University of Torino (IT).

These projects will be overseen by the Food4Health Core Team, which includes Colruyt Group, Danone Nutricia Research, EIT Food Central and EIT Health Belgium-Netherlands.

In 2019, the 14 tasks being conducted will establish the basis for the intervention programmes that will be further developed and tested in 2020. The call for participation in the 2020 tasks will be launched later this month.

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EIT Food is a network of industry, academic and research partners, set up to transfer our food system. By connecting consumers with businesses, start-ups researchers and students from around Europe, EIT Food supports innovative initiatives that improve our health, our access to quality food and our environment.


EIT Health is a network of best-in-class health innovators backed by the EU. We deliver solutions to enable European citizens to live longer, healthier lives by promoting innovation. We connect the right people to work on societal challenges across European borders so that innovation can happen at the intersection of research, education and business.