EU action stated in the Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity
The White Paper A Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues outlines an integrated approach for Europe to improve healthy nutrition and physical activity (EC, 2007b). It addresses the policy coherence at four levels:
- community level, especially encouraging physical activity by supporting the improvement of infrastructure in terms of walking and cycling pathways as well as urban transport plans;
- member state level;
- the private sector, especially encouraging sport organisations to work together with the public health organisations, development of healthy lifestyles in the workplace, clinical professional bodies to strengthen training of health professionals with regard to nutrition and physical activity; and
- international cooperation, especially to develop a nutrition an physical activity surveillance system for the EU-27 together with WHO.
European Platform aims to collect intervention experiences and good practice
The European Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health aims to collect intervention experiences and models of good practice. It runs a database of examples of best practice. At the start of 2008, 69 initiatives or activities to improve physical activity have been listed in the database. The European Platform was founded in March 2005 and provides a common forum for interested actors. Currently, the platform has 34 member organisations, ranging from food industry to consumer protection NGOs.
WHO’s Global Strategy outlines principles and responsibilities for action
The Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health of 2004 outlines goals, objectives and evidence, as well as principles and responsibilities for action (WHO, 2004g). Most detailed is the list of policies and actions to be implemented at member state level. Next to the strategy, a comprehensive framework of indicators to monitor the implementation of the Global Strategy at member state level has been published by WHO (WHO, 2006e).
General recommendations for physical activity from WHO
WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health states one of the most general recommendations for physical activity: […] It is recommended that individuals engage in adequate levels [of physical activity] throughout their lives. Different types and amounts of physical activity are required for different health outcomes: at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. Muscle strengthening and balance training can reduce falls and increase functional status among older adults. More activity may be required for weight control (WHO, 2004g).
To which activities these recommendations correspond per age group is illustrated in detailsHow people of all ages could reach the recommended levels of physical activity. Several similar recommendations have been developed and issued over the years by different authors or authorities: see detailsPhysical activity recommendations for an overview (Hagströmer, 2007).
Several international networks are set up to promote physical activity
European and international networks were set up to promote physical activity. These networks were setup by public health and scientific bodies. See Relevant databases, projects and organisations for more information.
A broad range of national and European examples of interventions exist
National and European examples of interventions are multifaceted in number and approach. In many European member countries interventions can be found. Some European examples are the Shape Up Programme, the Keep Fit Programme and Move for Health. More information is in the database of the European Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health as well as at the HEPA Europe webpage.