Raising interest in deploying EPODE similar programmes across Europe
We are now in the final year of the EPODE European Network project (EEN). This moment is the best time for a first review. This editorial summarized briefly the achievments of this project connecting research and practice to federate, give value, and enrich existing local actions and programmes aimed at preventing childhood obesity in a sustainable way through the EPODE methodology.
Editorial by Dr Jean-Michel Borys
We are now in the final year of the EPODE European Network project (EEN). This moment is the best time for a first balance.
The EEN Project: A think and Do Tank
To foster the implementation of the EPODE methodology - to date developed in more than 300 towns across Europe - the EEN was aimed at developing concrete recommendations on EPODE pillars and at raising awareness on the interest of the EPODE methodology.
Let’s summarize briefly the achievements of this project connecting research and practice to federate, give value, and enrich existing local actions and programmes aimed at preventing childhood obesity in a sustainable way.
Highlighting EPODE pillars in childhood obesity prevention
A core objective of the EEN was to identify best practices, from EPODE (France) / THAO (Spain) / VIASANO (Belgium) and later PAIDEIATROFI (Greece) programmes, and other similar CBIs experiences.
Thanks to the involvement of four associated universities, the EEN was the opportunity to document and conceptualize EPODE practices related to four important pillars of the methodology: Involvement of political representatives, coordination and social marketing, monitoring and evaluation and public/private partnerships. This has been done through a mix of 20 workshops counting with multidisciplinary contributions, broad published and unpublished literature screening and more than 75 interviews with an important diversity of stakeholders.
The next EEN symposium, to be held on 7 April 2011 in Brussels, will be the excellent opportunity to present recommendations developed from this research. It will be open to European scientific experts, policy makers, national and local authorities, public health professionals, private actors and others interested in contributing to the prevention of childhood obesity through the EPODE methodology
Raising awareness across Europe
To foster the set up and the implementation of the EPODE methodology in other European countries, regions and cities. another important objective of the EEN was also to raise political, institutional and scientific awareness of the relevancy of local, long-term and multistakeholders approaches in childhood obesity prevention, counting with the commitment of political representatives, city and regional structures, national public health agencies, scientific groups, as well as private support.
Indeed, the EEN project has contributed to significant progress in this regard. The consortium of EEN partners has been invited to present the EPODE methodology and the EPODE European Network activities to many scientific and institutional public health conferences and congresses over the last 3 years, reaching a significant mass of key opinion leaders, scientific experts, public health professionals, social marketing experts and National/Regional public health authorities. The EPODE methodology has also been described in several reports and publications  as a valuable community-based initiative to prevent childhood obesity.
Additionally, along the second year of implementation of the EEN, attention was raised across Europe about the interest of implementing the EPODE methodology and similar initiatives. Several teams kept in touch and new teams contacted the EEN coordinating team. On-site visits and workshops in European countries and regions have thus been organized to initiate dialogue on the way to launch and implement EPODE similar initiatives.
This was the case in the United Kingdom (South Yorkshire, East of England and Northern Ireland) but also in Malta, Netherland and Romania.
Particularly active is the network of Healthy Weight Communities in Scotland that is aimed at involving councils, National Health Services, the voluntary and private sector in schools, shops, community centres and parks to prevent obesity and associated illnesses with a particular emphasis on addressing health inequalities.
Based on the EPODE methodology and adding a pillar on “Obesity Care”, the Covenant on Overweight recently launched the JOGG program in Netherlands, currently in 6 towns.
In Romania, an EPODE methodology pilot study called “Acting together for children’s Health” (ACTSCOP) has been implemented in two counties.
Moreover, regular contacts are maintained in other European countries and beyond, to discuss the possibility to launch an EPODE-similar programme involving multiple stakeholders at national level. Again, next EEN symposium will be a key opportunity to give a voice to several of these community-based intervention programmes similar to EPODE, which will add value in the process of sharing knowledge and experiences across borders.
EEN Newsletter N°6 - January 2011
- (1) “Prevention for a healthier America” (Trust for America’s Health, 2009)
- “Future Breakthroughs in Science and Society” (Falling Walls Conference, Berlin, November 2009, http://www.falling-walls.com/blog/en/pages/Vortraege-Ansehen).
- “Population-based prevention strategies for childhood obesity” (Report of the World Health Organization, Report and technical meeting, December 2009)
- “Achieving healthier weights in Canada’s communities”, Call for proposal, Public Health Agency of Canada, May 2010
- “F as in Fat: how obesity threatens America’s future” (Trust for America’s Health, June 2010)
- " Principles and practice of social marketing: An international perspective" Cambridge University Press.Donovan, R. & Henley, December 2010