New insights from the initiative’s work in 2021 and conversations about what a system transformation really means and how it can contribute to the prevention of childhood obesity.
That was on the agenda when Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) hosted its second annual conference on December 8. The conference gathered both an impressive list of speakers and a wide audience.
-We are very happy that we among our speakers had managed to get such a broad representation with both national leaders and municipal and regional actors as well as national and international experts in system transformation and prevention work, says Peter Bergsten, professor at Uppsala University and national coordinator for ECHO, who also moderated the conference.
The list of participants also reflected ECHO’s broad approach with representatives from authorities, universities, municipalities, regions, business and organizations.
System transformation at national level
First out among the speakers, after Peter Bergsten presented ECHO, was Stefan Swartling Petersson, Karolinska Institutet and UNICEF, who gave his view of what a system transformation is and how it can support better health and prevention of childhood obesity.
Anna Nergårdh, the government’s special investigator in the work with a change in healthcare, described a coordinated development around system transformation from the preventive perspective and co-creation around health and Life Science.
The next speaker was Pia Steensland, Member of Parliament (KD), who highlighted national system transformation from theory to management from a preventive perspective.
Stefan Swartling Petersson, Anna Nergårdh and Pia Steensland then met in a panel discussion on system transformation as part of the shift of healthcare towards more preventive work in Sweden. Among other things, the participants gave their views on what is needed to make a system transformation and in what way ECHO can be a guiding example.
-It was an interesting and lively conversation where many important perspectives emerged and the participants also contributed with many wise questions and reflections, says Peter Bergsten.
System transformation in region and municipality
After more theoretical discussions, the focus was shifted to the practical work that is going on in Swedish municipalities and regions right now within the framework of ECHO. The conversation was moderated by Maria Bjerstam, Innovation Manager at Innovation Skåne, who leads the work within ECHO’s work package 5 Incentives, Remuneration Models and Business Models. Participating regions and municipalities were Region Västernorrland and Ånge as well as Region Värmland and Säffle, Filipstad and Storfors.
Next on the agenda was Jovanna Dahlgren, professor of pediatric endocrinology and chief physician at Drottning Silvia’s Children’s Hospital, who leads PBF’s work package 4 Measurement, follow-up and data management, who presented the results from three reports produced during the year. Among other things, Jovanna Dahlgren pointed out the importance of having access to a large amount of data from many different sources in order to be able to carry out the data-driven system transformation that ECHO aims at.
Anders Hjalmarsson Jordanius, unit manager for Digital Innovation at RISE Mobility and Systems, who leads ECHO’s Grand Challenge, presented the work that took place during the year linked to the innovation competition. Participants also got to take part in presentations from two of the Grand Challenge finalists. Both are at the forefront of the development and market introduction of two exciting apps, both of which aim to counteract childhood obesity.
System perspective and network
The last, and much appreciated presentation was by James Nobles, University of Bristol, who began with the thought-provoking quote “Obesity is a normal response to an abnormal environment.” (Egger & Swinburn, 1997) He then described why the old way of working with prevention does not work on such a complex and unpredictable challenge as obesity.
Instead of focusing on the visible effects of the problem, we need to understand its root causes and James Nobles believes the best way to do that is to start from a systems perspective and let a wide range of societal actors work together. Both to gain an understanding of the challenge itself and how the social system works and to jointly identify appropriate interventions. It is also about agreeing jointly on actions that create change and, together as a network, follow up and take responsibility.
-Overall, it was a packed afternoon with many new insights, but also new questions that we take with us in the work ahead. We have already agreed that the conference next time will be a full day, Peter Bergsten concludes.