Obesity and unemployment – what’s the link?

We all know that the rise in obesity across Europe is a significant concern. But did you know that high levels of obesity often coincide with high rates of unemployment? A recent Gallup poll shows that the longer a person is unemployed, the higher the rates of obesity, with rates reaching up to 32.7% after a year or more of unemployment. 

14 organisations from across Southern England and Northern France have come together to tackle these two issues holistically via ASPIRE (Adding to Social capital and individual Potential In disadvantaged REgions). This €10 million Interreg VA Channel project has been awarded more than €7 million by the European Regional Development Fund and runs from September 2019 to February 2023. 

The challenge tackled by ASPIRE is reflected in local statistics: whilst the national unemployment rate in France is around 10%, the Hauts-de-France region is the worst affected at nearly 13%. Obesity rates there exceeded 20% in 2016, six percentage points above the French average. Equally, according to a UN report one quarter of British adults are obese, with levels having more than trebled in the last 30 years: 63.1% of people in South East England and 62.7% in South West England are overweight.

It’s clear to see that a worryingly high proportion of people are considered as being obese and overweight in these two areas and the highest levels are recorded in areas of high economic deprivation. An OECD report exploring the relationship between education & obesity states that “obesity tends to be more prevalent in disadvantaged socio-economic groups.” Whilst eating healthily can often seem unachievable on a budget, knowledge of how to cheaply grow and prepare fresh fruit and vegetables can make all the difference.

ASPIRE will give obese/overweight and/or unemployed people the tools they need to make healthier lifestyle choices and improve their employability. Current health and employment services rarely work together to tackle the issues as one problem, despite the evidence that they are linked. The project will encourage a “grow your own, eat your own, sell your own” ethos inspiring a new model, co-created using partner expertise in both fields. 

The model will holistically combine the necessary support to increase employability with access to local healthy food produce and consequent weight loss. The model will be implemented at 7 sites and using innovative technology to enable participants to improve their relationship with food and provide them with the skills and support they need to gain access to the employment market. 

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What is Interreg France (Channel) England? https://www.channelmanche.com

Interreg FCE is an EU programme set up to foster economic development in the south of the UK and north of France by funding innovative projects which have a sustainable cross-border benefit in the Programme’s eligible regions.

For more information please contact: Sophie McGannan, Project Manager, sophie.mcgannan@nhs.net 

What is the European Week of Regions and Cities?

The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event (7-10 October 2019) during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance.

The event was created in 2003 when the European Committee of the Regions invited Brussels-based local and regional representations to the European Union to open their doors to visitors simultaneously. One year later the European Commission’s DG for Regional Policy also joined the adventure.

Developing from the initial concept, the event has become a European networking platform for experts in regional and local development. Exchange of good practice in economic development and social inclusion, cross-border cooperation, public-private partnerships, regional innovation and community-led local development have become some of its many topics.

To read more about this, go to: https://europa.eu/regions-and-cities/_en

Meet the first European country to legalise cannabis: Luxembourg

Calling on its EU neighbours to relax their drug laws, Luxembourg’s health minister confirmed plans to become the first European country to legalise cannabis production and consumption.

Residents over the age of 18 are expected to be able to buy cannabis for recreational use legally within two years. Nevertheless, the state will regulate production and distribution through a cannabis agency. Draft legislation is expected to be unveiled later this year providing further detail on the types of cannabis that will be on sale and the level of tax that will be imposed.

To read more about this, go to: https://www.healtheuropa.eu/first-european-country-legalise-cannabis-luxembourg/92793/

2019 EU Health Award: the Commission unveils shortlisted initiatives

The European Commission selected the shortlisted initiatives of the 2019 EU Health Award for cities, NGOs and schools seeking to prevent and reduce obesity in children and young people (6-18 years old).
The nine shortlisted per category, in alphabetical order by organisation, are:

CITY category

  • Amsterdam Health Weight Programme (AHWP) by Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  • Weighty Friends (Ik heb een maatje) by Genk (Belgium)
  • Sintra Grows Healthy (Sintra Cresce Saudável) by Sintra (Portugal)

NGO category

  • FitforKids by FitforKids (Denmark)
  • CROKY MOVE Programme by RéPPOP BFC (France)
  • Healthy And Tasty (Zdravo I Fino) by Society “Our Children” Zabok (Croatia)

SCHOOL category

  • Active School Break by Antsla Gümnaasium (Estonia)
  • #Be Active @IES Guadalquivir by IES Guadalquivir (Spain)
  • Schools scheme for fruit and vegetables, milk and diary products by Primary School Podturen (Croatia)

The winners will be announced on 17 October 2019 at the Award Ceremony during the annual meeting of the EU Health Policy Platform in Brussels. The event will be live-streamed, with the link shared on the EU Health Award website and the EU Health Policy Platform.