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Disrupting childhood obesity trends across Europe; a joint symposium of CO-CREATE, STOP and PEN

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On September 2nd, 2020, EU projects CO-CREATE, STOP and PEN met at ECO/ICO 2020 for a joint symposium where they discussed how the three projects are trying to address some unresolved challenges around childhood obesity and ensure successful, sustainable outcomes.  The symposium was organized by the CO-CREATE team.

Globally, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing: in 2016, it was estimated that 340 million school-age children were living with overweight. In-light of the urgency of the situation, the World Health Assembly established a global target of “no increase in the prevalence of obesity by 2025” [based on 2010 base levels]. However, as flagged by Professor Tim Lobstein, we are far away from achieving these: very few countries are showing better than a fifty-fifty change of meeting the target. In fact, the majority will fail. In Europe, current trends indicate that there will be over 10m children in the region affected by obesity in 2030, highlighting a significant failure to meet the target.

As our current attempts to curb the spread of the childhood obesity epidemic have failed, we now need to move towards implementing comprehensive policies addressing the environments surrounding us. Our joint symposium with three European projects – STOP, PEN and CO-CREATE – aimed to explore how we can address some of these unresolved challenges, while ensuring sustainable outcomes beyond the projects’ duration. These projects are framed around three pillars to bring new, innovative approaches to current childhood and adolescent obesity-related interventions: (i) evidence-based policies, (ii) accountability and (iii) youth engagement.

Three projects with distinct yet complementary approaches

The STOP project – a knowledge generation and translation approach

The Science and Technology in childhood Obesity Policy (STOP) project aims at expanding and consolidating the multi-disciplinary evidence base upon which effective and sustainable policies can be built to prevent and manage childhood obesity. Through a more traditional approach, the project aims to produce evidence that is relevant for policymakers and help them address the problem of childhood obesity. Specifically, the project focuses on the core idea that obesity has multiple and diverse characterisations, and therefore that one-size-fits-all policy approaches to childhood obesity are bound to fail, and the scientific component of the project is designed to recognise diversity and support the development of tailored solutions.

www.stopchildobesity.eu
Twitter: STOPobesityEU#

The PEN project – a policy-focused approach

The Policy Evaluation Network’s (PEN) vision is to provide Europe with tools to identify, evaluate and benchmark policies designed to directly or indirectly address physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and sedentary behaviour while accounting for existing health inequalities. Over the course of the project, PEN will aim to deliver an overview of the ‘best’ public policies most likely to sustainably support more favourable health behaviours. PEN aims to assess public policies with potential influence on food and physical activity environments; foster a pan-European monitoring and surveillance system; model the impact of policies at the population level; evaluate policy implementation processes and their facilitators and barriers; and give recommendations for an equity and diversity perspective in policies directly or indirectly targeting dietary, physical activity or sedentary behaviours across Europe.

www.jpi-pen.eu 
Twitter: @PEN_EU1

CO-CREATE – an experimental approach

Through a more experimental approach, CO-CREATE aims to investigate how policy changes can support healthy eating and a physically active lifestyle with the aim of halting the rise of adolescent obesity. By focusing on upstream factors and context change instead of on individual behaviour change, CO-CREATE hopes to generate sustainable impacts that contribute to narrowing inequalities. The project provides a model for how to involve young people and the range of relevant stakeholders by explicitly politicising the issue of obesity, providing specific obesity related policy proposals, and designing and testing advocacy tools and strategies for implementation and evaluation.

During the symposium, Professor Harry Rutter highlighted that while all three projects have some overlap, they are also looking at different areas of the problem. We also know that obesity, and specifically childhood obesity, is now a public health emergency. So what are key things missing in our collective response to obesity with young people? Here’s what our panel had to say:

“What we are missing is an ability to understand the behaviours of those who are most in need to change behaviour. We haven’t been very successful in changing children’s behaviours because we don’t take their perspectives into account. The behaviours of children from low socio-economic backgrounds are the ones we understand the least, and the drivers of those behaviours are what we need to change if we want to make a significant difference in CHO.” Professor Franco Sassi, STOP PI

“There is still a lack of understanding that different policy dimensions have an impact on health and wellbeing. For instance, transport ministries often lack awareness of the health impacts of their policies. There is a lack of cross-talk between different ministries on local and national levels, as well as a lack of prioritisation of policies. We need to raise awareness of the health impact of different policies.” Professor Wolfgang Ahrens, PEN PI

This is the kind of questions we were asking when designing the project. There still tends to be a stronger focus on individual-level based interventions, less so on population-based strategies and policies, and a lack of seeing a complete system and the relationship between all these policies. The voices of young people are also still largely missing.” Professor Knut-Inge Klepp, CO-CREATE PI

www.co-create.eu
Twitter: @EU_COCREATE

See the full article at the website of the CO-CREATE project here.

 

Presentations

Rules for presentations of the PEN consortium
The publication rules of the PEN project have been laid down as Annex IV of the Consortium Agreement, final version dated 22nd October 2018.

Workshops and symposia

  • Webinar: Measuring policy actions for healthy and sustainable food and physical activity environments - A SIG Policies and Environment webinar, webinar led by PEN and the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA), 22 September 2020. Find more information and the recording of this webinar here.

  • Virtual joint workshop: Disrupting childhood obesity trends across Europe; a joint symposium of CO-CREATE, STOP and PEN
        - CO-CREATE: CO-CREATE: Cocreating policies with youth in Europe (Professor Knut-Inge Klepp)
        - STOP: Strengthening evidence and engaging different actors (Professor Franco Sassi)
        - PEN: Monitoring and accountability of public policies across Europe (Professor Wolfgang Ahrens)
    at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECO-ICO 2020), 2 Septemer 2020.
  • Virtual joint symposium „Addressing health policy and research at the STOP/ CO-CREATE/ PEN Symposium”, 30th June 2020. A virtual joint symposium of the STOP, CO-CREATE and PEN was organized with key members of the three consortia as an opportunity for the projects to collaborate and share updates on progress to date. Quotes from the coordinators of the STOP, CO-CREATE and PEN project, as well as the link to the recorded symposium on 30th June 2020 can be found at the website of the STOP project here.
  • Identifying the 'best buys' in public policy for promotion of physical activity and healthy nutrition; Can we do it? If yes, How? Why? and What we can learn from each other. Pre-Conference Workshop at the 19th Meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (SBNPA) - Advancing Behaviour Change Science, Auckland, New Zealand, 17-20 June 2020.

Talks at scientific conferences

  • The Work of the WHO CC for Physical Activity and Public Health at FAU. Speaker: Peter Gelius. Invited talk at the Kick-off meeting of the EU-sponsored LOGOPAS project. Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 4-5 February 2020.

Posters at scientific conferences

  • Evaluation and prioritization on food environment policies in Norway using th Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI). Author: Liv Elin Torheim. 12th Nordic Nutrition Conference, Helsinki, Finland, 8-12 June 2020.

Archive of presentations of past years

 

2019

Workshops and symposia

  • Policy impact indicators. Expert workshop at the Robert Koch Institute. Berlin, Germany, 26-27 September 2019.
  • Taxation policies regarding sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and other junk foods. Learning from experience. Workshop at the 4th V4 Public Health Conference. Debrecen, Hungary, 25 April 2019.
  • Health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) policy audit tool (PAT) Training. HEPA-PAT training workshop at the Kick-off Meeting of the PEN project. Bremen, Germany, 5 February 2019.
  • Overview of Food Environment Policy Index (Food EPI) Processes. Food-EPI training workshop at the Kick-off Meeting of the PEN project. Bremen, Germany, 4 February 2019.
  • European Food Environment Policy Index (Food EPI) Roadmap development. Food-EPI training workshop at the Kick-off Meeting of the PEN project. Bremen, Germany, 4 February 2019.
  • Workshop for stakeholders consultation. Stuttgart, Germany, 4 February 2019.

Talks at scientific conferences

  • Best food policy practices.  Road to Framework Convention on Food Systems: tackling global syndemic with food policy. Speaker: Piotr Romaniuk. Invited talk at the pre-conference workshop of the 12th EPH Conference 2019. Marseille, France, 20-23 November 2019.
  • An emerging trend to tax sugar sweetened beverages and other junk foods: overregulation or an effective way to modify dietary behaviours? Speaker: Piotr Romaniuk. 12th EPH Conference 2019. Marseille, France, 20-23 November 2019.
  • Identifying best practices in junk food taxation and other food policies. Selected examples and their assessment. Speaker: Piotr Romaniuk. 12th EPH Conference 2019. Marseille, France, 20-23 November 2019.
  • Public policies addressing health-related behaviours in Europe. Speaker: Wolfgang Ahrens. Expert workshop to identify indicators important for monitoring and surveillance in young and adult populations. Berlin, Germany, 26-27 September 2019.
  • The Work of the WHO CC for Physical Activity and Public Health at FAU. Speakers: Peter Gelius, Karim Abu-Omar. Invited talk at the meeting of the Workgroup “Physical activity in everyday life” of the German Ministry of Health. Berlin, Germany, 7 May 2019.

Posters at scientific conferences

  • Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) - Fostering Sustainable and Active Transport in Copenhagen. Noah Peters & Lucia Reisch. ‘Festival for the Global Goals’ organised by Frederiksberg Municipality and hosted by Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Copenhagen, Denmark, 13-14 September 2019.
  • Siec ewaluacji polityk – projekt europejski; zadania Uniwersytetu Medycznego w Poznaniu (European Project Policy Evaluation Network: from the perspective of Poznan University of Medical Sciences). Katarzyna Wieczorowska-Tobis et al. National conference for dieticians. Poznan, Poland, 2 March 2019.

2018

Workshops and symposia

Talks at scientific conferences

  • Policy Evaluation Network (PEN). Speaker: Catherine Woods. Invited talk at the ISPAH conference. London, United Kingdom, 15-17 Oktober 2018.
  • Policy Evaluation Network (PEN). Speaker: Catherine Woods. Invited talk at the working group of the European network for the promotion of health-enhancning physical activity (HEPA). Video conference, 11 June 2018.
  • Effectiveness of existing policies for lifestyle interventions - Policy Evaluation Network (PEN). Speaker: Lucia Reisch. Internal event at the Copenhagen Business School. Copenhagen, Denmark, 23 March 2018.
  • Effectiveness of existing policies for lifestyle interventions - Policy Evaluation Network (PEN). Speaker: Antje Hebestreit & Sarah Forberger. Internal event ("Jour-Fixe") at BIPS, Bremen, Germany, 5 February 2018.

Posters at scientific conferences

2017

Workshops and symposia

Talks at scientific conferences

Effectiveness of existing policies for lifestyle interventions - Policy Evaluation Network (PEN). Speaker: Wolfgang Ahrens. Invited talk at the 4th JPI HDHL Conference. Brussels, Belgium, 1 December 2017.

Posters at scientific conferences