prevention barnfetma foto Natasha ivanchikhina
Foto Natasha Ivanchikhina/Unsplash

A lot of good initiatives, but few lasting results

What successful, evidence-based initiatives are being implemented today to prevent childhood obesity? This question is being investigated by the work package Best Practice. During autumn 2020 a comprehensive survey investigated a wide variety of initiatives, both nationally and internationally. The goal of the project is to reach a common view on what should be done to prevent childhood obesity in Sweden.

To get a comprehensive picture a variety of initiatives have been examined, both traditional programs aimed directly at children and families, for example within health care and preschool, and programs at overall societal level. In addition, a questionnaire has been sent out to a large number of actors to capture initiatives that are ongoing around Sweden but cannot be found through literature studies.

– What we see is that a lot of things are happening, but the next question we need to ask ourselves is what can be done better. What is being done today is unfortunately not good enough and today there is no lasting way to reduce childhood obesity, says Peter Bergsten, professor at Uppsala University and leader of Best Practice.

Test new ideas

The work to develop more effective initiatives, which provide long-term sustainable results, has already begun. The next step will be to find municipalities where the new ideas can be tested. The goal is to during 2021 establish cooperation with five municipalities, and their associated regions. Preferably from different parts of Sweden with different populations and conditions.

– The municipalities that choose to participate will receive many benefits. This is a societal problem with high costs, both human and financial, that all municipalities and regions struggle with, says Peter Bergsten.

Powerful network

An advantage for the five municipalities that participate in the project is that they will be part of a powerful network of actors from all over Sweden – regions, government agencies, companies, and voluntary organizations – who all work for change. The municipalities will be involved in the entire process so that the new methods really get integrated in the operations and are developed according to the realities “on the floor”. Theory should meet practice.

The work takes place at system level, that is, instead of focusing on the individual, the family, the individual preschool or the like, the overarching whole is taken into consideration. It provides experience and tools for the municipalities to also tackle other similar societal challenges.

– The question we need to ask ourselves is how to get an entire society to move. What we see is that it is often the implementation that fails. There can be great ideas, but then there is no power to implement, says Peter Bergsten.

During the first three years, the work will be carried out together with the five test municipalities, the next step is to scale up to 50 municipalities, to finally reach all 290 municipalities in Sweden.

Is your municipality interested in being a test municipality?

Contact project manager Peter Bergsten, peter.bergsten@mcb.uu.se