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Policy databases and monitoring
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In our present-day environment of over-abundance and omnipresence of cheap, palatable high-calorie foods appealing to preferences that are often acquired at an early age for fat, sugar and salt, our sedentary work and leisure environments, as well as a lack of opportunities for daily physical activities, unhealthy choices are often the easiest, default choices.
A large and growing body of research shows that people’s nutrition and physical activity behaviours are influenced by complex sets of contextual elements, including unhealthy and unsupportive physical, social, cultural, economic, and political environments. There are also important co-benefits between environments that promote healthier food and physical activity choices, and the enhancement of agricultural and environmental sustainability through factors such as promotion of plant-based diets and active modes of transport.
Obesity prevention therefore presents major opportunities for multiple benefits across many different domains of society through changing existing ‘obesogenic’ environments to healthier environments that encourage more sustainable lifestyles.
Policy databases and assessment
Within Europe, we do not only see considerable variation in child and adolescent weight status and energy balance related behaviours (EBRB), we also see great variation in policies and strategies designed to foster environments that promote healthier food and physical activity choices.
Tools such as the NOURISHING framework, developed by the World Cancer Research Fund International, the leader of work package 2, highlights where governments need to take action to promote healthy diets, provide an important demonstration of ways in which this can be done. Specifically designed as a policy framework to promote healthy diets and reduce obesity, NOURISHING brings together ten policy areas across three domains: food environment, food system and behaviour change communication.
As part of CO-CREATE, it was recognised that an equivalent tool for assessing physical activity policy would be extremely valuable. MOVING recognises that government action is needed in four areas: active societies, active environments, active people and active systems. The evidence shows that each domain is important in influencing how active we are. Within the framework, there are six policy areas. Each letter of the word MOVING relates to a policy area where government should take action. These include programmes to promote activity across the life course including at schools and workplaces; active travel through walking and cycling infrastructure, and access to green spaces; and educating everyone about the benefits of living an active life.
Go to our project resources to access the databases.
Based on the relevant national and/or regional policies identified by World Cancer Research Fund International, work package 3 under the leadership of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, will then focus on establishing ‘state of the art’ in terms of existing evidence regarding effective measures to prevent overweight and obesity among adolescents, investigate changes in overweight and obesity rates as well as EBRB across countries over time.
In June 2020, the project review og reviews by Flodgren et.al found a lack of convincing evidence about effective interventions to improve health behavior or prevent overweight in adolescents. Read the publication here, and check out the commentary by World Obesity Federation here.