Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Schools in Europe: A Toolkit for Policy Development and its Implementation

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce the HEPS project (Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Schools) and discuss initial steps of the project implementation within EU countries. On the basis of the Health Promoting School approach as a conceptual foundation for the project, HEPS aimed
at developing and implementing an effective tool for supporting the development of national policies on healthy eating and physical activity in schools across Europe. For this purpose, a package of publications (HEPS Toolkit) was produced and disseminated within the Schools for Health in Europe
(SHE) network.

Design/methodology/approach: An initial implementation survey was carried out with national coordinators of the SHE network (n=24). Findings – Results indicate that more than half of the respondents were familiar with and
disseminated the HEPS Toolkit to relevant stakeholders at national, regional and local levels. However a number of problems and barriers in the implementation were encountered, such as lack of support and resources, existence of competing programmes, and frequent education and health reforms.
Practical implications – The findings are discussed against two models of implementation and a few recommendations are suggested for optimizing the further implementation of this, and other similar projects.

Originality/value: THE HEPS toolkit is the first attempt to support all EU member states in the development and implementation of a national policy on healthy eating and physical activity in schools. The involvement of the national coordinators of a well established European network of school health can be seen as an innovative way to implement and disseminate the project outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Education
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)513-524
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 10.2012

    Research areas

  • Health sciences - Adolescents, Children, Diet, European Union, Health promoting school, Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Schools, Obesity, Overweight, Prevention, Schools, Schools for Health in Europe (SHE) network