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Among young people in Europe, one in seven 15-year old teenagers is overweight or obese. By 2025 overweight is expected to affect one in every five children – a total of over 16 million children in the European community. Researchers from SWPS University will participate in an international research project, CO-CREATE, aimed at reducing childhood obesity and its co-morbidities by working with adolescents to create, inform and disseminate obesity-preventive evidence-based policies. The project is part of the Horizon 2020 EU flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness.

 

research project 

CO-CREATE


Confronting obesity: Co-creating policy with adolescents

 

Research UnitUNI SWPS english
Grant AmountEUR  222,687
Funding Sourcelogo EC

Duration of Research Project: 2018-2023

 

Among young people in Europe, one in seven 15-year old teenagers is overweight or obese. By 2025 overweight is expected to affect one in every five children – a total of over 16 million children in the European community. Researchers from SWPS University will participate in an international research project, CO-CREATE, aimed at reducing childhood obesity and its co-morbidities by working with adolescents to create, inform and disseminate obesity-preventive evidence-based policies. The project is part of the Horizon 2020 EU flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness.

Research Objectives

Vision

CO-CREATE’s vision is that before 2025 the rise in adolescent obesity will have come to a halt. This goal is aligned with the present EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014-2020 and the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Disease 2013-2020. Furthermore, as obesity prevalence is positively associated with poverty CO-CREATE’s vision is that the prevalence rates among adolescents from lower socio-economic groups will have been reduced to the present-day levels of the highest socio-economic groups within the same countries. The intention is that the changes will be driven by an evidence-based and stakeholder-led obesity-preventive public policy environment.

CO-CREATE will be conducted over a period of 5 years (60 months).

Goals

The CO-CREATE project aims to reduce childhood obesity and its co-morbidities by working with adolescents, to create, inform and disseminate obesity-preventive evidence-based policies. The project applies a systems approach to provide a better understanding of how factors associated with obesity interact at various levels. The project focuses on adolescence as the specific target group, a crucial age with increasing autonomy and the next generation of adults, parents and policymakers, and thus important agents for change. CO-CREATE involves and empowers adolescents and youth organizations to foster a participatory process of identifying and formulating relevant policies, deliberating such options with other private and public actors, as well as promoting relevant policy agenda and tools and strategies for implementation.

Methodology

Overview

The project has a strong gender profile and considers the relevance of geographic, socio-economic, behavior and cultural factors. CO-CREATE engages international partners from different policy-contexts in Europe, Australia, South Africa and the US. Applying large-scale datasets, policy monitoring tools, novel analytical approaches and youth involvement will provide new efficient strategies, tools and programs for promoting sustainable and healthy dietary behaviors and lifestyles. The generated knowledge and innovative tools for assessing actual policy implementation, strategies for empowering adolescents; and strategies for identifying, implementing and monitoring relevant policy programs are applicable to stakeholders involved in the European efforts to tackle childhood obesity.

Youth Participation

CO-CREATE aims to have youth involved in all stages of the project, and this goal will be formulated in the Project Strategy for Ethics, Gender and Youth Involvement. Press, a youth advocacy organization under Save the Children, is a full consortium partner. Active youth participation constitutes the core of the project at its various stages. Local youth organizations will be involved at five different sites, including Portugal, Norway, UK, Netherlands and Poland. The European Youth Parliament will also be involved.

Innovation

Prevention

CO-CREATE will advance the state of the art of obesity prevention in Europe through a set of innovative, stakeholder-led activities. It will drive the co-creation of a prioritized set of policy objectives to tackle the obesity epidemic using a range of novel tools, and existing approaches adapted and enhanced for this purpose. In addition to their focus on improving the lives of adolescents, both now and across their lives, these tools and approaches will also be valuable in multiple other settings to improve public health across all ages and in all countries.

Innovation in Six Main Areas

  1. Synthesis of European level data, policies and evidence.
  2. Co-creation of obesity prevention policies by adolescents and academic experts
  3. Development and enhancement of monitoring tools for energy balance related behaviors.
  4. Generation and use of obesity system maps to identify and test obesity prevention policies.
  5. Development of protocols for creating youth alliances for obesity prevention policies.
  6. Protocols and tools for youth engagement with policy makers and industry.

Young people are not a burdensome responsibility but a critical resource to society which can be mobilized to achieve higher social goals.

(EU Strategy for Youth)

Conclusion

The global epidemic of obesity creates an enormous burden in terms of suffering and disease, health care costs, and costs to wider society. All ages are affected, and although no country has reversed the epidemic, significant effort in terms of both research and action has already been enacted. To date, however, this attention has almost entirely been focused on young children and adults, and adolescents have been largely ignored in the response across Europe and worldwide.

CO-CREATE seeks to address this important and harmful omission by placing adolescents, their perspectives, and the factors that shape their health, at the very center of the project. 

A group of highly respected global experts in tackling the problem of obesity has been assembled to help the adolescents by providing a series of mechanisms, structures, and opportunities for the young people, to work with them to identify mechanisms for change that will lead to improvements in the health of youth across Europe.

The project will replicate established techniques where appropriate, such as in the baseline reviews of data and evidence, but beyond that it will be increasingly innovative, developing a novel framework for assessing physical activity policy; describing the state of the art in obesity-related data and activity across Europe; and then engaging European adolescents in a set of activities that use cutting-edge participatory approaches to bring the voice of an under-served population group into the heart of problem identification and policy responses to those problems.

CO-CREATE thus provides an exciting opportunity to move beyond existing models of public health knowledge generation and action to find new ways to address one of the greatest health, wellbeing and economic challenges facing Europe. It will contribute new insights, new approaches, and new methodological tools that will help to reverse the harmful epidemic of obesity, improving the health of young people in Europe now and for future generations.

Consortium

Expertise

The CO-CREATE consortium members, both individual researchers and organizations, have been selected on the basis of their capabilities and unique expertise to cover the ambitious objectives set out for the project. The expertise of the partners covers a wide and complementary range of fields, including life course epidemiology, methodology, overweight and obesity, nutrition, physical activity, sociology, complex system methods, evidence based policy, public health, modelling, statistics, dissemination and project management.

Participants

  1. FOLKEHELSEINSTITUTTET, Norway
  2. UNIVERSITEIT VAN AMSTERDAM, Netherlands
  3. UNIVERSITETET I OSLO, Norway
  4. WORLD OBESITY FEDERATION, United Kingdom
  5. LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE, United Kingdom
  6. UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN, South Africa
  7. Centro de Estudos e Investigação em Dinamicas Sociais e Saúde, Portugal
  8. World Cancer Research Fund International, Belgium
  9. EAT Stockholm Food Forum AS, Norway
  10. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, United States
  11. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, Switzerland
  12. Press Norway
  13. UNIVERSITETET I BERGEN, Norway
  14. SWPS UNIVERSITY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES, Poland
  15. DEAKIN UNIVERSITY, Australia

 

Researchers

258 Aleksandra Luszczynska

Professor

Aleksandra Łuszczyńska

Principal Investigator for Poland
psychologist specializing in health psychology and behavioral medicine

aluszczy@uccs.edu

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