INTERVIEW of JOGG's Ambassador
Paul Rosenmöller, ambassador of JOGG Programme, speaks about the objectives, specificities and next steps of this large-scale initiative launched in 2010 in the Netherlands to promote healthy weights in young people. As a former active member of the Dutch parliament, Paul ROSENMOLLER had the perfect background to mobilize the forces for the cause of childhood obesity prevention. Appointed as the chair of the Covenant on Overweight and Obesity by the Minister of Health in 2005, he now develops a programme called JOGG (meaning “Youth On Healthy Weight”), based on the EPODE methodology.
As a former active member of the Dutch parliament, Paul ROSENMOLLER has the perfect background to mobilize the forces for the cause of childhood obesity prevention. Appointed as the chair of the Covenant on Overweight and Obesity by the Minister of Health in 2005, he now develops a programme called JOGG (meaning “Youth On Healthy Weight”), based on the EPODE methodology.
Could you tell us about the start of the JOGG programme and its objectives?
At the end of the first covenant (end of 2009) an impressive list of the actions that had been carried out by all partners to tackle overweight was compiled. However, the overweight prevalence was stabilizing in some but not all age groups. The federal government and the former partners in the covenant therefore decided that overweight prevention needed a strengthened and coordinated approach that led to the Covenant on Healthy Weight. It was decided that special attention should be given to children. After a visit to Paris to meet with the EPODE team (based in Proteines), the partners of the Covenant became enthusiastic about the French EPODE approach. Key elements of this approach were translated to the Dutch JOGG programme.
JOGG focuses on a local branch-integrated approach using proven interventions in the area of food and physical activity, which are linked to national themes. The programme is especially designed for reversing the increasing trend in overweight in children and adolescents. Launched in 2010, it aims to have at least 75 municipalities in 2015 that have adopted the JOGG approach to promote a healthy weight among young people.
What are the specificities of JOGG compared to other obesity prevention programmes?
The JOGG approach is based on five pillars: political-governmental support, public private partnerships, social marketing, scientific research and linking prevention and healthcare. So one of its specificities is the political-governmental and private support we get. The nature of the interventions employed is another particularity as for us they should be science based. On this point, additional research will follow the interventions to create a knowledge base of effective tools and methods. Finally, we especially insist on the importance of linking prevention and healthcare, so that a centralized approach to prevention and care will get parents, children and adolescents the right help at the right place when dealing with overweight.
What achievements are you proud of and what will be the next steps?
As chairman of the Covenant on Healthy Weight and ambassador of the JOGG programme, I am proud to be part of an initiative working towards a solution with many relevant parties, such as the government, privately held companies and NGOs. The first JOGG year has been a year of building commitment. Because we had a small core team we could make rapid decisions. At central level, having the support of important key stakeholders (e.g. national government, national institutes) and a clear vision (a strong story and background) helped enormously to gain the involvement of existing overweight prevention initiatives.
This process has proven to be already successful with 6 municipalities and one province joining the JOGG approach, with 6 private partners in place at national level, and with the creation of consolidated support from stakeholders in public health science, national politics and local government and health promotion. We also had the chance to have the support of her Royal Highness Princess Máxima for the launch of JOGG in the province of Drenthe last february, which will probably help opening doors at a higher level. *
To prove whether the JOGG methodology works, JOGG will have to demonstrate measurable behaviour modifications and a decreasing trend in overweight in the coming years.
 Covenant on Healthy Weight 2010-2015: this covenant unites 27 participating organisations ranging from the Ministry of Health, local and federal government, federations of organised private companies and non-governmental organisations in their efforts to stop the increasing rates of overweight and obesity in the Netherlands.
*The interview took place in April 2011. Currently, there are 7 more JOGG municipalities in the Netherlands, which makes a total of 13 JOGG municipalities and the province of Drenthe.