Collaboration high on the agenda at second Regional Meeting of WHO Collaborating Centres for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity

The second Regional Meeting of WHO Collaborating Centres for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity took place on 29-30 Oct 2012, in Erlangen, Germany.

Discussions at the meeting of WHO Collaborating Centres for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity centred on three major challenges:

  • non-decreasing prevalence of obesity particularly in children;
  • persistence of undernutrition pockets in countries;
  • deterioration of dietary habits and its impact on major noncommunicable diseases.

Action points were set out that referred to the areas of work of the nutrition, physical activity and obesity workplan where the Collaborating Centres and Institutions could provide important scientific and technical support together with WHO Headquarters.

Areas for collaboration

From the meeting it emerged that WHO and its Collaborating Centres could synergize in several areas namely:

Monitoring and surveillance:

  • Modelling and forecasting the impact of obesity and the NCDs;
  • Development of common methodology for dietary assessment and diet related behaviour and tools for WHO to provide support to Member States for developing standardised methodologies for diet intake and physical activity.
  • Monitoring of food marketing practices in TV, but also new media and wider marketing environment, developing research data on children’s responses to food marketing including new media and specific individual differences e.g. related to SES and assess optimal system for food labelling to enable healthy choices in various consumer groups, such as children;
  • Identification of differences in salt intake by SES to inform understanding of social determinants, review of monitoring and surveillance systems, monitoring tools and validation and mapping of salt and iodine intake globally to inform policy;
  • Provide advice on assessing sugar intake and monitor impact of intervention programmes;

Policy development:

  • Policy analysis in the field of physical activity namely the determinants of policy development and implementation at national and international level;
  • Develop common tool for policy implementation and meal planning in schools;
  • Develop national healthy food baskets, optimised for nutrient requirements but also to reduce consumption of undesired nutrients to directly address the risk of NCDs.
  • Identify city-based interest in increasing opportunities for physical activity in children;
  • Develop of curricula for summer schools in the field of nutrition and physical activity and develop on-going system of summer schools in various locations. Start with early-career researchers and address cost–effectiveness of physical activity interventions;
  • Counselling on nutrition and physical activity;
  • Weight management, diet and physical activity NCD risk reduction.

Finally the meeting gave an overview of the work of the WHO Regional Office for Europe on nutrition, physical activity and obesity and outlined the role of WHO Collaborating Centres from a European and global perspective. It was suggested this meeting as a dialogue platform might a serve as a model to other regions. WHO Collaborating Centres and Institutions presented their workplans highlighting the connections to the main entry points:

  • the WHO Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Programme;
  • the Action Plan for the Implementation of the European Strategy on NCDs;
  • the WHO Food and Nutrition Policy Action Plan and
  • the European Charter on Counteracting Obesity.