A society where the healthy choice is the easiest choice
Last September, we came together with the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) and JOGG/Youth Health Community to launch the HealthyLifestyle4All pledge in the presence of the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, Youth and Sport, Mariya Gabriel.
A pledge which we re-confirmed last Monday, June 27th, during the HealthyLifestyle4All event we co-organized at the European Parliament in Brussels. The coalition-building event of 50 stakeholders, which was hosted by MEP Tomasz Frankowski and opened with a welcome address by MEP Sara Cerdas was set up to start a conversation about the importance of making healthier lifestyle choices possible for all Europeans and advocate for cross-sectorial action.
A much-needed transition
A transition towards a healthier environment is no easy task. Yet, a much-needed one. As a matter of fact, almost two-thirds of adults and 1 in 3 children in the WHO European Region are living with overweight or obesity, and these rates are still growing (WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022). During the Covid pandemic, the situation has deteriorated even further, especially for the younger generation, as a result of the spiked physical inactivity, unhealthy food intake, mental distress and poor quality of life.
The persistence of such unhealthy lifestyles has led to the surge of non-communicable and chronic diseases across Europe, coming to represent a real global challenge for society and forcing us to look for systemic change.
Change which most of our stakeholders have already been working towards. So, we learned that JOGG's cooperation with municipalities in the Netherlands grew from six in 2010 to over 200 in 2022 (a 3000% increase in 12 years). Yet much remains to be done. As Jaap Seidell, Professor from the Faculty of Science, Youth and Lifestyle, at the Free University of Amsterdam stated: "Unfortunately most of the policies have been to restrict healthy lifestyles” and that change relies on “top-down policies and grassroots movements coming together in an integrated approach.” Want to hear about some of the other ways in which attending stakeholders and key speakers are committing to making healthy lifestyles a reality?
Hear their testimonies in the HealthyLifestyle4All after movie below:
A call for action
The event concluded with a call to action for any interested stakeholder to sign – both those present from non-profit food, obesity and sports associations, researchers, industry and policymakers as well as those who wish to support the initiative online. The coalition calls on the European Union to develop and implement a European Action Plan for the prevention of non-communicable diseases and healthy lifestyle promotion, similar to Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. In addition, it recommends health be included in all policies, and for support for health promotion to be visible across all EU actions. Finally, it calls for a significant increase in financial investments towards health promotion, with an integrated involvement of all stakeholders.
During the next few months, we will be campaigning to get additional signups, after which we will organize a follow-up online meeting, where all signatories can share opportunities for new initiatives (individually and collectively), engage in dialogue and peer partnerships in the group and discuss how we may advocate even more for healthy lifestyles. By the end of the year, we will take stock, publish articles on the progress made, and lay plans for the next year.