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Confronting Obesity: Co-creating policy with youth


Co-Create is a project designed to reduce obesity and its co-morbidities by working with adolescents, to create, inform and disseminate obesity-preventive, evidence-based policies, using a complex systems approach.

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CO-CREATE brings together 14 international research and advocacy organisations to work with adolescents to create, inform and disseminate obesity-preventive evidence-based policies. Its goal is to help reduce childhood obesity and associated co-morbidities in Europe and the rest of the world.

LSHTM has received over 1 million euros as part of a grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The project engages international partners from different policy-contexts in Europe and elsewhere: Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Portugal and Poland, with input also from Australia, the USA and South Africa.

CO-CREATE focuses on adolescence as the age group of interest

CO-CREATE sees adolescents as people with increasing autonomy and as the next generation of adults, parents and policymakers, and thus as important agents for change.

CO-CREATE aims to engage adolescents and youth organizations in

  • a participatory process of identifying and formulating relevant policies,
  • deliberating such options with other key stakeholders in the obesogenic environment,
  • promoting relevant policy agenda, tools and strategies for implementation.

CO-CREATE is methodologically innovative

CO-CREATE applies a systems approach to provide a better understanding of how factors associated with obesity interact at various levels.

COCREATE applies policy monitoring tools, novel analytical approaches and youth involvement to provide new strategies, tools and programmes for promoting sustainable and healthy dietary behaviours and lifestyles.

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CO-CREATE at LSHTM 2 columns
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LSHTM is running a Co-Create work-stream which will conduct complex systems mapping with adolescents, policy-makers and academics on drivers of diet and physical activity.

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Since the UK Government Foresight report was published in 2007 it has become increasingly common to see obesity described as a complex system problem. This rhetoric has not, however, been matched by the reality, and the overwhelming majority of policy responses to obesity remain grounded in traditional epidemiological approaches. In the LSHTM CO-CREATE work package we will address this problem by taking a genuinely complex systems approach through working with a range of stakeholders, most importantly groups of adolescents in five European countries, to map out the food and physical activity systems that affect their lives and identify ways in which they could be reshaped through policy actions to generate healthier sets of outcomes.

The outputs from the LSHTM work on Co-Create will then be used in other work packages within the project to develop, refine and test interventions to improve the lives of young people in Europe.

  1. We will develop a set of conceptual maps of the obesity system, in different group settings: groups of young people in five European countries (the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal and the UK), national and European level policymakers and academic experts.
  2. We will synthesise evidence, research on policy environments, and a combined conceptual obesity system model to produce reports. We will consider the interplay between existing evidence of need, evidence of effectiveness of interventions, and opportunities for policy responses. This will be based around a conceptual model that treats interventions as events within systems, considering the level of action within the system, grounded in a complex systems model of public health evidence.
  3. Data from the maps of the obesity system will be used by researchers at the University of Bergen to run systems dynamic models.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 774210. 

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Ms Christine Rivett-Carnac


Project Coord & Editorial Office Manager
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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 774210.