STOP Newsletter 7
July 2022

One of the main aims of STOP is to generate policy-relevant evidence on the factors that have contributed to the spread of childhood obesity in Europe. The project was granted a 6 month extension, and will now finish in November 2022,  giving us time to complete work that was delayed during COVID-19 and to leverage our research to make a meaningful impact in the policy sphere.

We are delighted by the success of our continued collaboration with CO-CREATE, PEN and JA Best ReMap, and will be finalising a collective call to action for European policy and research, drawing on the discussions at a recent 3-day symposium (more below).

In the final months of the project, we will be:
  • Synthesising findings from across the work packages to present a series of factsheets and recommendations with key project findings
  • Publishing a new checklist to support multi-stakeholder action and accountability
  • Running a final stakeholder meeting in October and a final project meeting in November.

Joint Symposium ‘future directions for nutrition and physical activity policy in Europe’

Last month, the STOP Project collaborated with three other European projects, including fellow Horizon 2020 project CO-CREATE, The Joint Action Best ReMap and JPI PEN, to jointly host a 3-day symposium ‘Future directions for nutrition and physical activity policies to prevent NCDs across Europe’. The purpose of the event was to share and discuss lessons learned, and to inform priorities for next steps in European obesity policy and research in Europe. The Symposium was an opportunity to showcase some of the key findings from STOP, including work on fiscal policies, marketing policies, determinants of childhood obesity, economic impact of obesity and the results of Food-Epi’s conducted in 5 countries in Europe. The event included 3 plenaries, a launch of the new STOP-WHO policy briefs and 14 parallel sessions.

STOP releases its latest findings on the determinants of childhood obesity

The latest research on the determinants of childhood obesity was published earlier this year in a special supplement issue of Obesity Reviews, published to coincide with World Obesity Day. The findings reaffirm that childhood obesity is a result of the interaction of lifestyle factors, social determinants, genetic make-up, and an obesogenic environment. The research investigated obesity risk factors in early life, the role of diets (including ultra-processed foods), genetic and metabolic determinants of obesity, and the impact of the environment on obesity-related outcomes.
Go to supplement

New data on nutrition commitments by food companies published

A new STOP study aimed to quantitatively assess publicly available nutrition-related commitments made by the largest packaged food and beverage manufacturers, supermarkets and Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) in Europe (2020). A total of 30 companies were assessed, including 17 packaged food and beverage manufacturers, 6 Quick serve restaurants (QSR) and 7 supermarkets.

Company commitments fell short of best practice recommendations (median overall score of 21%, range: 1%–62%). The median scores for packaged food and beverage manufacturers, QSR and supermarkets were 35% (range: 1%–62%), 15% (range: 3%–30%) and 15% (range: 7%–27%), respectively. Food and beverage companies generated 82% (15%–100%) and 58% (1%–100%) sales from ultra-processed and “unhealthy” products, respectively. The number of QSR outlets and transactions substantially increased in Europe since 2011, while QSR commitments to improve population nutrition remained limited. Companies with stronger reformulation and marketing to children commitments are still deriving a large proportion of their sales from ultra-processed and unhealthy products. Government regulations are urgently needed.
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“The interplay between market concentration and diversity, food environment related commitments and associated practices of major food companies across European, Belgian and French markets”.

- The story of a PhD thesis and defence –
We are pleased to announce that Dr Iris Van Dam, a PhD student whose research was part of the STOP Project, has successfully defended her PhD. Her thesis presented how factors within the market environment (market concentration and diversity) as well as companies’ commitments and practices might affect the healthiness of European food environments. Results showed moderately to highly concentrated product markets with the same most sold product categories and major food and beverage manufacturers active across Europe. Increased market concentration and reduced market diversity showed potential to predict increased sales of ultra-processed food products. The commitments made by major food companies, as well as their practices, fell short of recommendations. There was no indication that stronger commitments translated into healthier practices. Taken together, there is an urgent need for government regulation to guide, monitor and support food industry efforts to improve the healthiness of food environments.
Location and time defence: INRAE in Ivry-Sur-Seine (65 boulevard de Brandebourg 94205 Ivry-Sur-Seine); Monday 13/6 at 2pm.

New WHO-STOP policy briefs launched to support countries with policy implementation

How can recommended policies be effectively implemented to improve the environments we live in? A question asked by many policymakers, and one that a new set of toolkits from WHO and STOP project hope to answer. The new briefs help enable policy makers to establish and implement priority policy options to address childhood obesity and improve health across Europe. The policy briefs cover a number of priority policy areas and serve as toolkits for improving health such as nutrition labelling, fiscal policies, reformulation, marketing restrictions, and physical activity in schools, as well as nudge policies. Each of these topics has been extensively researched as part of the STOP project, allowing us to better understand the potential of such policies to improve health, and a number of the wider factors that may impact policy success.

STOP stakeholder engagement continues

The fourth STOP dialogues were held on 22nd of March 2022, with the main aim to discuss draft recommendations for stakeholders’ engagement. Key findings of the dialogues which have informed final recommendations include:
  1. It is crucial to involve different stakeholders in all phases of the project. Stakeholders always have their own goals and interests, and it is essential to strike a balance between different interests, where public health goals are vital. Establishment of inter-sectoral workgroups, at the national and EU levels should be encouraged. Common objective should always be working together towards shared goals, limiting the competition where reasonable.
  2. Developing an accountability framework: elements should focus on ensuring there is a legal basis and repercussions in the case of noncompliance. It is important to monitor policy implementation, ensuring there is an efficient and transparent monitoring system and regular obligatory reporting on the progress.
  3. Multi-stakeholders environments should be viewed as an ecosystem, where each partner/stakeholder is equally important. Within sustainability planning it is crucial to have realistic goals and timeframes, to develop action plans, platforms for meetings and exchange of good practices. Above all transparency, openness, establishing a common language and building trust is vital for understanding each other’s values and building fruitful multi-stakeholder partnerships.



Save the Date

Potential of research recommendations for policy implementation

STOP will be convening a series of stakeholder events over the course of three days (3rd-5th October 2022 in Ljubljana, Slovenia). This final STOP stakeholders conference, ‘Potential of research recommendations for policy implementation’, will draw on the STOP stakeholders work and will focus on the policy opportunities for the implementation of the research recommendations at the EU level and in the EU Member States, whilst also broadening the dissemination to the WHO Euro region countries. Look out for more information in the coming weeks or contact for more information.

Book launch - Health Taxes: Policy and Practice

A new book, Health Taxes: Policy and Practice, published by World Scientific Publishing, was launched in June, aiming to enumerate key health taxes of interest, explore their positive and negative effects, and how these effects are influenced by the design of these taxes and the context in which they are applied. We ask how and where they can be implemented. Critically, the book builds an argument for why policymakers across government should care about health taxes. The book was authored by Imperial’s Centre for Health Economics & Policy Innovation (CHEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Written by leading academics and experts on the subject of health taxes, the book’s release is especially timely in the UK as it follows the release of the National Food Strategy (NFS) in 2021.

The CO-CREATE Dialogue Forum tool has launched!

CO-CREATE, STOP’s sister Horizon 2020 project, has launched the COCREATE Dialogue Forum tool after four years and 20 Dialogue Forums. The Dialogue Forum is designed to connect people across generations and sectors to co-create solutions for a healthier future. As part of the policy development process, young people from around the world were invited to plan and participate in Dialogue Forums to help refine ideas and identify actions. This newly launched tool is based on the learnings of these Dialogues and participants' experiences from around the world.
Tool and video series available here
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