The European medical industry is evolving to meet new challenges. Growing deficits and debt crises across Europe are placing increased strains on shrinking healthcare budgets. European populations are getting older requiring more costly health services and benefits. Meanwhile, obesity is on the rise in some European countries, and governments are proposing new regulations to encourage or enforce healthy living habits.
Organic grocery stores have grown rapidly in Western European markets. Private insurance companies are gearing up to provide confidence to consumers with additional healthcare coverage. European companies are encouraging new forms of wellness services, such as massages and coaching.
The German government proposed in 2010 to levy a tax on the obese to reduce strain on health infrastructure, encourage preventative health measures among consumers and improve fiscal budgets. This has sparked controversy in a country debating how best to encourage healthy habits in an ageing nation.
Health claims are being treated with more scrutiny as European regulatory bodies seeks to increase confidence in claims of food functionality. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has publicly complained in June 2010 about the weakness in the food industry’s claims about their products, and has signaled that it will take a louder stance on claims of food functionality.