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Coalition-building event at European Parliament calls for cross-sector action on healthy lifestyle promotion

By ISCA, JOGG and Schuttelaar & Partners

On Monday, 27 June, the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA), JOGG, Youth Health Community (YHC) and Schuttelaar & Partners gathered 50 stakeholders in health and physical activity promotion at the European Parliament in Brussels to advocate for cross-sector action and commit to making healthier lifestyle choices possible for all Europeans. The coalition-building event was hosted by MEP Tomasz Frankowski, EPP, who has led a sport report for the European Parliament underlining the importance of cross-sector collaboration in supporting the European Commission’s HealthyLifestyle4All campaign. The event concluded with a call to action for any interested stakeholders to sign – both those present and to those who wish to support the initiative online.

“I am honoured to be part of today’s coalition-building event promoting healthy lifestyles for all. I would like to thank ISCA, JOGG and Schuttelaar & Partners for their organisation of this event to help make the transition to a healthy lifestyle possible for all Europeans,” MEP Frankowski said in his opening address. “People don’t realise the impact physical activity has on their health and wellbeing.”

The coalition calls for action from the European Union to develop and implement a European Action Plan for prevention of non-communicable diseases and healthy lifestyle promotion, similar to Europe’s Beating Cancer Action Plan. It recommends health to be included in all policies and for support for health promotion to be visible across European Union actions. It also calls for a significant increase in financial investments towards health promotion, with an integrated involvement of all stakeholders. 

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 among the younger generation. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity are on the rise, which is related to the spike in physical inactivity, unhealthy food intake, mental distress and poor quality of life.

MEP Sara Cerdas, S&D, joined the event online, highlighting in her on-screen address that a holistic approach is essential for effective health promotion and that her support for the coalition is driven by the lack of cohesive attention this area has received at an EU level.

“Much more needs to be done in the European Union in terms of healthy lifestyle promotion. This has been part of my mandate since I started [my term as MEP],” MEP Cerdas said.

Only 3% of health budgets goes towards health promotion
The HealthyLifestyle4All coalition’s call to action aims to be a conversation-starter at the European level to create healthier environments where the healthy choice is the easiest choice for all European citizens. The coalition asked all participants at the event, including host MEP Tomasz Frankowski, to support and sign the policy call to action. 

It is a much needed conversation to be had, according to ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby, who points out that “Only 3% of health budgets are spent on disease prevention and health promotion, while health costs are rapidly increasing. If the European Union is serious in its mission to advance ‘the wellbeing of its people’ it is high time that we advance healthy lifestyles and healthy communities.”

Jaap Seidell, Professor from the Faculty of Science, Youth and Lifestyle, at the Free University of Amsterdam, agreed that “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.”

Change can be prompted at the grassroots, as speaker Marjon Bachra, the Director of JOGG and JOGG Youth Health Community and guest speakers Andreu Raya-Demidoff from the Spanish Active and Healthy Schools programme, Hanna Christensen from DGI in Denmark, and Bo Wesley from Novo Nordisk also pointed out.

“For real change, we need to create a society where it’s possible and easy for every child to eat healthily and get enough exercise. Policymakers and professionals from all industries and sectors, nationally and internationally, are needed. Therefore, it’s very important to put the issue on the European political agenda,” Marjon Bachra said.

She added that JOGG’s growing cooperation with municipalities in the Netherlands, from six in 2010 to over 200 in 2022, provides evidence that community organisation and NGOs can lead broad, cohesive movements that can make a difference at a national level.

The Head of the EU Sport Unit, Floor Van Houdt, joined a discussion panel in the second half of the programme including the guest speakers and youth advocate Pedro Goncalves from the Co-Create Youth Declaration Task Force, and reinforced the coalition’s message to “step out of our comfort zone and look out for partners”. Co-creation is the backbone of the EU’s HealthyLifestyle4All initiative, which invites organisations to submit pledges to be actively involved in healthy lifestyle promotion.

“Together with the pledge organisations we will monitor what is changing. We will continue looking into what is happening on the ground and share this information so it’s not lost,” Floor Van Houdt said.

The HealthyLifestyle4All campaign runs from 2021-2023 and ISCA, JOGG, Schuttelaar & Partners and MEP Frankowski’s call to action is also now available for any interested stakeholders to support online at

Posted on 29/06/2022 by ISCA, JOGG and Schuttelaar & Partners


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