Exploring Joint Solutions for Healthy and Sustainable Lifestyles

How can we modify our lifestyles to protect the environment and our health simultaneously? This question is at the centre of an investigation by the EU-funded project – Intersectoral Health and Environment Research for Innovation (INHERIT), which will examine the health and environmental implications of our living, moving, and consumption patterns.

Our current lifestyles, characterised by ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ models of economic growth, are damaging the environment and our health. The proportion of adults in the EU Member States that are considered overweight or obese range between 37.0 % (Italy) and 56.7 % (UK) for women and between 51.0 % (France) and 69.3 % (Malta) for men. In early 2016, the UK released a report stating that around 40,000 deaths in the country per year are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution, which has also been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes related to dementia.

The 18-partner, 4-year Horizon 2020 research project brings together experts from sectors including health, environment, and technology to identify triple win situations for environmental sustainability and improved health equity and well-being. The experts will identify effective inter-sectoral policies, interventions and innovations that encourage individuals and communities across Europe to lead healthier and more environmentally sustainable lifestyles. The research will focus on the areas of living (housing, the built environment), moving (active travel) and consumption (food, nutrition, eating habits). It will identify promising uses, test and evaluate pilot activities, roll-out models of good practice, evaluate them on their cost-effectiveness and support decision makers in efforts to reach the full potential of strengthening well-being and environmental sustainability.

Using our expertise in impact areas and promising practices for sustainable lifestyles, we will lead a visioning process in multi-stakeholder engagements to generate long-term goals for policies supporting sustainable and healthy lifestyles. Additionally, we will use backcasting exercises to create policy roadmaps, including goals and impact indicators, for policy interventions between now and 2030. Linking health and sustainability and actively promoting policies that further them together will simultaneously benefit individuals and society as a whole.