This year's theme for the World Heart Day is ‘make a promise to your heart'. I encourage each of us to make a promise to take better care of our hearts by adopting better habits: eating healthier foods, moving and exercising more, avoiding tobacco and moderating alcohol intake.
With 6 million new cases diagnosed and around 1.8 million people dying yearly of heart-related diseases in the EU, it is a day where each of us should stop for a moment and think what promises we can make and keep to decrease these staggering numbers.
At the Commission level, we make a promise to continue working on initiatives that focus on lifestyle choices by encouraging healthy nutrition through food reformulation and our work to protect children and adolescents from too much exposure to marketing of foods high in energy, saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugars and/or salt.
We remain committed to reducing tobacco use, one of the major causes of heart disease. In addition to our policies on regulation and advertising, we have recently adopted new traceability and security rules to prevent illegal tobacco sales.
Just one day after the 3rd United Nations high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases, I also call upon Member States, and not only Health Ministers, but all Ministers, to scale up their efforts on risk factors since many cardiovascular diseases are preventable and this is what makes it all the more tragic.
Greater collaboration across national borders can also help. The recently launched EU best-practice portal brings together policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders who can share their evidence-based health promotion and prevention practices. The White Paper of Global Coalition of Circulatory Health presents success stories and feasible solutions for heart health from around the world and will help to strengthen prevention efforts.
We all know what needs to be done to keep our hearts healthier. Let's make that today promise and keep it.