Training for health professionals: promoting healthy diets and physical activity in primary health care settings

WHO/Europe's nutrition, physical activity and obesity programme successfully completed two-day training workshops for health professionals in both the Republic of Moldova (30 November–1 December 2015) and Malta (3–4 December 2015). The training workshops were dedicated to scaling up the promotion of healthy diets, physical activity and weight management in primary health care settings.

The trainings gathered health professionals working in primary health care, schools and community health centres. Participants had expertise in family medicine, nutrition and dietetics, cardiology, endocrinology and oncology, as well as paediatrics. Particular focus was placed on brief interventions to encourage behaviour change using motivational techniques, but participants were also able to discuss day-to-day barriers they face in implementing new approaches.

The training workshop had several objectives.

  • Familiarize health professionals with the important evidence and guidance from WHO on the links between nutrition, physical activity, body composition and weight, and health outcomes.
  • Demonstrate, through practical exercises, existing techniques and approaches to:
    • identify important target groups (e.g. pregnant and breastfeeding women, children) and at-risk individuals;
    • monitor dietary intake and levels of physical activity; and
    • monitor child growth and nutrition status in children and adults.
  • Provide participants with an opportunity to learn and experiment with several approaches to brief motivational interviewing through case studies and group workshops.
  • Understand the importance of patients setting realistic goals for themselves and agreeing indicators of success with patients.
  • Identify, discuss and debate potential system changes that could act as enablers, such as the development of new tools or more collaborative working methods.

It is expected that WHO/Europe will organize several more training-the-trainers workshops during 2016, using workbooks and case study materials that are in development as training tools for Member States.