Six months into the project, the national initiative Prevention of Childhood Obesity has produced a comprehensive survey of the current situation and created a stable basis for the next steps in the work. The vision for the 10-year project is zero childhood obesity at school start by 2030 and that all children get an equal start in life. The way to get there is a transformation on system level.
Today, there is a clear consensus that early interventions can make a big difference in preventing illness in adulthood. It is therefore important to prevent overweight or obesity in children as it often accompanies them into adulthood – with the sequalae that can occur later in life.
However, there is no uniform picture of what measures that are most effective in preventing childhood obesity. In addition, there is no actor who clearly owns the responsibility for the issue. Because the reasons are so complex, both cooperation between many different actors and new methods are needed. It is important to do the right things already from the start and focus on the rotor causes and not only the symptoms.
Testing and evaluating
Regions, municipalities, authorities, businesses, and the non-profit sector all contribute to the project. So far, much of the work within Prevention of Childhood Obesity has focused on getting a clear picture of the current situation. Within the work package Best practice, previous and current initiatives have been mapped to find out what seems to work best. The work package Measurement, Follow-up and Data Management has focused on creating a uniform structure for terminology and measurement. The work package Incentives, Remuneration Models and Business Models examines how preventive health work can become an economically sustainable business.
In the next step, the project will focus on testing and evaluating the methods that are assessed to have the greatest potential to make a difference. This will be done in collaboration between a wide range of actors.
– Already from the start of the project we have seen that there is great interest in the project. We have 24 formal parties, including patient representatives, health care, researchers, and businesses, where the solutions are nationally scalable. Another 40 or so organizations are following the work. The project has also been recognized in several different national and international contexts, says Ebba Carbonnier, portfolio manager for nationally scalable solutions at Swelife and leader of work package 1 National Coordination.
In 2021, a Grand Challenge will be held where companies, organizations or groups of individuals are invited to take on the societal challenge of childhood obesity as a team. The teams that develop the solutions that are assessed to have the greatest potential then receive support to develop their ideas all the way to finished concepts that can be scaled up and introduced to the market.
-Sweden has a particularly good innovation capacity with our video game industry and our health data. We see that Sweden’s next major export product can be Addictive Health Applications, says Ebba Carbonnier.
Read updates from the work packages
Work package 2, Best practice: “Many good initiatives, but few lasting results” Work package 3, Grand Challenge: “Sweden’s first Grand Challenge focuses on the prevention of childhood obesity” Work package 4, Measurement, Follow-up and Data Management: “A common rail for measurement, follow-up and data management” Work package 5, Incentives, compensation models and business models: “Many actors are involved, but no one has the main responsibility”
Facts childhood obesity
In Sweden, more than half of the adult population lives with overweight or obesity, and today there are clear evidences that it is a major risk factor for common diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, and also for mental illness. Already among four-year-olds, 11 percent live with overweight or obesity, and there is also evidence that those who lived with obesity as children have major difficulties reaching normal weight as adult. In addition to the suffering for the individual, the silent pandemic also entails large societal costs, which in Sweden are estimated at SEK 70 billion per year.