In October 2023, ATHLETE’s project coordinator Martine Vrijheid featured in the European Commission’s Horizon EU Research and Innovation Magazine, in which she explains how and why researchers are examining the range of environmental effects on people’s health throughout their lifetime.

The combination of environmental influences and how the body reacts to them is called the exposome. It factors in what people eat and do, where they live and work and how they interact with their physical surroundings. Everything from exposure to toxic chemicals to weather changes is included. The environment accounts for an estimated 70% of the chronic disease burden on people, with air pollution from fossil fuels burned by factories, power plants, cars and buildings being a leading cause.

We know that, for a large proportion of our non-communicable or chronic diseases, there are preventable causes in the environment,” Vrijheid explains in the Horizon EU Research and Innovation Magazine.

ATHLETE focuses on young people to reduce their overall chances of getting sick.

“It’s much more efficient to start prevention in children or pregnancy than to address risk factors when people are older and already on the way to becoming ill,” said Vrijheid. “Anything that happens in those very early years can have consequences later in life.”

Click here to read ATHLETE’s full interview in the Horizon EU Research and Innovation Magazine.