A consortium of 14 international research and advocacy organizations meet in Oslo, Norway, today and tomorrow (27-28 June) to kick off a ground-breaking project to tackle overweight and obesity in young people. The initiative involves young people as a key component throughout the project, designing policies and advocating practices they believe will help improve adolescent health. Supported by the European Commission, the budget of over €9.5m will provide a program of activities for a five-year period 2018-2023.
The project, titled CO-CREATE, will work with adolescents to create, inform and disseminate policies to tackle obesity among their peers. The project sees adolescence as a crucial age-group with increasing autonomy and soon to be the next generation of adults, parents and policymakers, and thus important agents for change. CO-CREATE sees youth involvement as an essential component to the development of policies which are aimed at them, and thus the project aims to involve and empower adolescents and youth organizations to foster a participatory process of identifying and formulating relevant policies, assessing the options with other private and public actors, promoting relevant policy actions and developing tools and strategies for implementation.
In addition to the involvement of young people, another key element of CO-CREATE will be the use of a societal systems approach to understand how different societal factors, stakeholders and institutions associated with obesity interact at various levels, and the implications these have on policy and young people.
CO-CREATE partner organizations include university research departments, national public health institutions and a number of civil society organizations concerned with health policies and youth well-being. The project will build on existing initiatives and platforms, and construct new opportunities and platforms for youth engagement in the issue and youth participation in democratic moves for advocacy and policy change.
“Young people are not heard enough in developing the policies that affect them, and shaping the environments in which they live,” said project leader, Professor Knut-Inge Klepp of the Norwegian Institute for Public Health. “As researchers and advocacy organizations we should listen more. We can bring large-scale datasets and policy monitoring tools, but we need to listen more if we are to create new strategies, tools and programs for promoting sustainable and healthy behaviors,” he said.
The CO-CREATE Project has received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research budget, shared between 14 research groups in six European countries plus Australia, South Africa and the United States. The project will be completed in 2023.