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Preventing Childhood Obesity - EPODE European Network Recommendations


EEN Book of Recommendations :

Emerging from the pillars of the EPODE methodology, the EPODE European Network (EEN) project is a collaborative and multidisciplinary initiative, whose objectives have been to develop and disseminate recommendations for the implementation of community-based interventions aimed at preventing childhood obesity. Supported by the European Commission (DG SANCO), the EEN has gathered multiple contributions from institutions, academia, national and local authorities, public health experts and professionals, civil society organisations, private stakeholders and industrial partners. This book of recommendations is the result of a collaborative effort from the combined research, dialogue, experience-sharing and consultation activities implemented between 2008 and 2011.

  • Foreword Despina Spanou, Principal Adviser of the Directorate General for Health and Consumers, European Commission
  • Preface Jean-Michel Borys, EPODE European Network Director 

PART 1 : The Challenges of childhood obesity prevention: from EPODE to the EPODE European Network

The first part of this book contextualises the genesis of the EEN, as a project based on the EPODE methodology and its pillars.

This first chapter aims at setting the scene of obesity prevention presents a pragmatic approach, a perception backed up by the literature, the many reports, discussions and experiences on the field.

This chapter provides a comprehensive description of the EPODE methodology which is a large-scale, coordinated, capacity-building approach for communities to implement effective and sustainable strategies to promote healthier lifestyles and prevent childhood obesity.

This chapter provides a global description of the EPODE European Network project (2008-2011), its objectives, organisation, partners and activities, and introduces the research questions and recommendations that will be addressed in Chapters 4 to 7, as well as EEN expected outcomes further presented in Chapters 8 and 9.

PART 2 : Recommendations to implement large scale community-based interventions using the EPODE methodology: from research to practice

The second part of the book is an opportunity to open access to the research and recommendations developed from the EEN project.

The Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Department of Political Science of Ghent University, have conducted the EEN research on the role of local governments in community interventions concerning obesity prevention. Based on literature data the hypothesis was raised that a local authority should engage in assuming leadership in the promotion of diet, physical activity and healthy lifestyles to effectively reach the target on sustainable changes in relevant behavioural patterns. This hypothesis has been tested by means of two case studies about the leading role Flemish city authorities play in the promotion of diet, physical activity and healthy lifestyles.


The Research team in charge of the EEN Committee on Methods and Social Marketing was based in the Department of Physiotherapy and Nursing of the Saragossa University. They have studied how network dynamics, different methods of behaviour modification and social marketing approaches can be integrated and adapted to childhood obesity and non-communicable disease prevention to enrich EPODE implementation. This chapter, written with the contribution of experts who participated actively to the EEN Meetings on this specific topics, gives an overview on social marketing approach in health promotion and more specifically within the EPODE methodology.

The EEN Research Committee on Public-Private Partnerships was based in Lille 2 University. The research team implemented a methodological design which started with a review of the literature (scientific articles, official publications, existing charters, etc,) and preliminary interviews to better understand what PPPs are in the field of health promotion, what are the key issues to consider, which in turn are relevant to typify the PPP frameworks implemented within European Epode-like programmes.

The Scientific Evaluation and Dissemination committee in the Department of Health Sciences of the VU University in Amsterdam had to produce and disseminate concrete guidelines for the scientific evaluation of EPODE such as community-based interventions and the dissemination of the approach, and to contribute to the improvement of the monitoring and evaluation process of EPODE like initiatives. The evaluation of a community-based intervention programme such as EPODE, where multiple stakeholders will be involved in planning and implementing multiple activities in multiple settings directed at different target groups, can be a challenge but is not impossible. This chapter provide insights into important elements in the evaluation, monitoring and dissemination of a community-based intervention such as EPODE.

PART 3 : Forthcoming perspectives

The last part is devoted to giving a voice to various stakeholders who have shown a strong interest in deploying EPODE methodology and similar approaches in their regions and countries, and also to present EPODE progress and perspectives at European and international levels.

Eight years have passed since the launch of the EPODE methodology in 2003 and it now extends to 226 towns in France. Since then, EPODE has been further disseminated in various European countries, in Spain, Belgium and Greece and more recently in The Netherlands and Romania. Beyond the European borders, the South Australia region and Mexico also have developed community-based interventions using the EPODE methodology. This chapter gathers eleven interviews and data from EPODE programmes, EPODE-similar initiatives and other teams that wish to develop such programmes in the future.

This final chapter highlights EEN outcomes and remaining challenges to accelerate the implementation of community-based interventions aimed at preventing childhood obesity and non-communicable diseases at European and International levels.

"The enthusiasm for the EPODE concept at a local level is palpable among families, local practitioners and policymakers. In recent years this faith has been supported by documented evidence of the impact on obesity in the communities participating in the programme and EPODE has become a beacon for CBIs (...)"

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