01.11.2011 Eating healthily and enjoying a more active lifestyle
State of affairs of the National Programme on Diet and Physical Activity. The National Programme on Diet and Physical Activity 2008−2012 (NPDPA) was initiated a good three years ago. Its aims are to create conditions conducive to a healthy lifestyle and to motivate the population to maintain a balanced diet, take enough exercise and thus prevent diseases from occurring.
Five of the seven most important risk factors (high blood pressure, cholesterol, overweight/obesity, unbalanced diet and lack of exercise) of non-communicable diseases have to do with diet and physical activity. Thirty-seven percent of the Swiss population are overweight. The NPDPA is designed to counter this trend. The Swiss Government mandated the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), together with the Federal Office of Sport (FOSPO) and in cooperation with Health Promotion Switzerland and the cantons, to implement the NPDPA. The goals and tasks are distributed as follows:
1. Securing nationwide coordination: FOPH
2. Promoting a balanced diet: FOPH
3. Promoting physical activity and sport: FOSPO (except everyday physical activity: FOPH)
4. Integrated approaches to promoting a healthy bodyweight: Health Promotion Switzerland and the cantons
5. Improving counselling and
treatment provision: FOPH
Since the Federal Council Decision of 18 June 2008, the FOPH has been involved in a range of projects in its assigned areas, the most important of which are outlined below.
Progress with MOSEB
With a view to securing nationwide coordination (goal 1), the FOPH›s focus has been on the MOSEB nutrition and physical activity monitoring system. MOSEB is a collection of data and indicators in the fields of nutrition and physical activity. It enables relevant and as yet unavailable data and indicators to be identified and surveyed for the first time. These indicators are partly taken over from existing monitoring projects and partly processed from scratch. They are divided up into six sets of topics: health literacy, eating habits, physical activity, bodyweight, state of health, general conditions and service provision. Three of them were drawn up from scratch in 2010: «Cooking habits», «Physical activity spaces and surfaces» and «Adult BMI». MOSEB also involved the creation of a list of standard questions on the topics of nutrition, physical activity and bodyweight. This list is made available to individuals and organisations that envisage undertaking a survey or gathering data. Additional activities designed to secure nationwide coordination include preparing the 2012 National Nutrition Survey and the 6th Swiss Nutrition Report (chapter structure and three chapters).
Balanced diet and everyday physical activity
The FOPH had already implemented or initiated a large number of important measures to promote a balanced diet and everyday physical activity (goals 2 and 3) in the first half of the National Programme:
A high salt intake aggravates the risk of cardiovascular disease. The WHO therefore recommends a daily salt allowance of less than five grams per person a day. At approximately ten grams a day, salt intake in Switzerland is much higher. Together with the food industry and research organisations, efforts are underway in the framework of the salt strategy to investigate ways and means of lowering the salt content of food products and restaurant meals without loss of flavour. The aim is to reduce salt intake to eight grams a day by 2012. The long-term aim is to achieve the recommended maximum intake of five grams a day. The salt strategy comprises five pillars:
1. Data and research
2. Public Relations
3. National and international
4. Modification of product
5. Monitoring and evaluation
The salt strategy is being implemented in the framework of the actionsanté initiative.
In the actionsanté initiative, the FOPH seeks, supports and networks companies and institutions that voluntarily promise to make it easier for people in Switzerland to choose a balanced diet and regular physical activity in everyday life. The partners› actions focus on information for consumers, marketing and advertising, food composition and selection, and promoting an environment conducive to physical activity. To date, 15 partners have promised to undertake 21 actions relating to food composition/selection and marketing/advertising. A large proportion of these promises of action concern the goal of lowering salt intake.
Quality standards for communal catering
Communal catering in Switzerland provides meals for a million people a day and is therefore one of the NPDPA›s main action areas. Measures taken in this field include the establishment of «Swiss quality standards for health-promoting communal catering», which have been available to all interested parties in the fields of communal catering and corporate health-promotion since the end of 2009. In addition, communal catering in Switzerland was subjected to an international analysis in 2010 in which players were surveyed, questioned and integrated into efforts to implement health-promoting practices in this field.
Multisectoral approach to boosting everyday physical activity
Infrastructure is a major factor in shaping the population›s physical activity habits. For this reason the FOPH, in cooperation with the Federal Offices for Spatial Development (ARE), Roads (FEDRO) and Energy (SFOE) and other partners, supports efforts to create attractively designed neighbourhoods, safe footpaths and bicycle routes and promotes non-motorised traffic. In the field of everyday physical activity, the FOPH has supported projects initiated by the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) service centre for innovative and sustainable mobility and has participated in the working groups for «Development of suburban open spaces», «Recreational traffic» and «Federal coordination of non-motorised traffic». The FOPH website provides an overview of its entire involvement in the field of everyday physical activity.
Optimising treatment services
With a view to improving treatment provision (goal 5), the first phase involves appropriate information material being provided for GPs who have patients presenting with a possible obesity problem. In addition, an Internet platform with information on treatment provision in the individual cantons is to be set up. The documentation will be reviewed in the context of a pilot project at the beginning of 2012. In the second phase, the expert group will address topics such as eating disorders and malnutrition.
Further FOPH activities
Further FOPH activities on behalf of the NPDPA included:
– launching a video competition for schoolchildren on the topic of «Enjoyment and health» (in cooperation with the «Semaine du Goût» action week)
– preparing the 2012 National Nutrition Survey
– drawing up the 6th Swiss Nutrition Report (chapter structure and three chapters)
Evaluation in 2011
The NPDPA is being evaluated by an external agency in 2011. The results will constitute an important basis for the prolongation of the Programme.
Liliane Bruggmann, Head of the Nutrition and physical activity section, firstname.lastname@example.org