European Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity JANPA
A European Joint Action to halt the rise of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents by 2020
From September 2015 to November 2017, France (ANSES and the Directorate General for Health, Ministry of Solidarity and Health) coordinated the European Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity (JANPA), which aimed to contribute to halting the rise of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents by 2020. JANPA enabled the 26 participating countries to share and discuss the practices they implement to combat obesity and overweight, in order to identify the most effective levers for action. In addition to overall coordination, the Agency was particularly involved, as work package leader, in the component of the project concerning nutritional information, which aimed to share good practices in terms of the way information about food is collected, and also about how it is used by stakeholders in the framework of dietary policies.
In 2007, the European Commission set up the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity made up of representatives of EU Member State governments (with the Directorate General for Health representing France), under the Commission's leadership. In 2014, this Group proposed the implementation of a European Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity. Coordinated by France, JANPA was a direct contribution to the EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014-2020 and enabled the best data and practices available in the 26 countries involved (25 Member States of the EU, plus Norway) to be shared, identified and selected. As part of its coordination activities, ANSES also contributed to two other horizontal work packages (WPs) (communication/dissemination and evaluation).
JANPA was also composed of four technical WPs that produced tangible results:
- WP5: “Monitoring nutritional information and promoting the reformulation of foods”, led by ANSES with the participation of INRA and 10 other European partners representing eight countries, recognised the need to improve nutritional information in order to contribute to the food purchasing decisions of citizens and acquire knowledge on the variability of nutrient levels in food. The French OQALI Imodel was tested in Romania and Austria, with two categories of products widely consumed by children: breakfast cereals and non-alcoholic beverages. The two pilot studies undertaken as part of JANPA demonstrated that OQALI is an effective and inexpensive tool for collecting information to compare nutritional situations within and between countries. Based on this knowledge, common objectives can be defined for the reformulation of foods and their monitoring by public institutions.
- In the context of WP4: “Economic rationale for tackling childhood obesity” led by Ireland, the future costs of childhood obesity were estimated at country level, for a few countries, using a model taking into account health and societal costs related to premature mortality and loss of productivity. These estimates may prove essential to national advocacy efforts in favour of nutritional policies when governmental trade-offs have to be made.
- The work of WP6: “Healthy environments by integrated approaches”, led by Hungary, and of WP7: “Early interventions”, led by Finland, enabled criteria to be defined for selecting best practices for early interventions and actions at school, starting in preschools. These best practices were selected by the participating countries based on strict criteria. An online toolbox was created on the basis of their descriptions and qualitative analyses. Actions can be selected using search criteria such as country, area of intervention, intervention type, budget, etc.(https://janpa-toolbox.eu/). Recommendations for developing, implementing, sustaining and facilitating the transferability of a best practice were also formulated. The best practices identified through JANPA were also included in the “Best Practice” portal of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) of the European Commission.
The results of JANPA were presented and discussed during the final conference that was held on 24 November 2017 in Paris, at the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, in the presence of Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and Ms Agnès Buzyn, French Minister for Solidarity and Health. It brought together more than 250 people from 30 countries (professionals in the fields of public health, nutrition and physical activity, scientists, representatives from the food industry and consumer protection associations, etc.). It concluded with a presentation by Mr Roger Genet, Director General of ANSES, who underlined the significance and success of the work undertaken in the framework of JANPA as well as the need to work together at the national, European and international levels to find mechanisms that will enable the initiatives tested by JANPA to be rolled out.
Regarding follow-up to JANPA:
- The importance granted to food reformulation monitoring by the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity as well as the Reformulation Sub-Group prompted the European Commission to propose a call for tenders on reformulation in December 2017. The goal would be to develop a reformulation monitoring tool, harmonised at European level. On the basis of the OQALI/JANPA model, products could be closely monitored by collecting all of the nutrition information shown on their packaging (nutritional values, ingredients, serving sizes, claims, labels, logos, etc.). This harmonised monitoring at product level would enable best practices and possible reformulations to be identified and would thus contribute to optimising the nutritional quality of foods.
- When selecting best practices for co-financing in 2018, the Member States, represented in the Steering group on promotion and prevention – SGPP of DG SANTE, chose to focus on nutrition and physical activity. They will choose their priorities from the 12 best practices that were presented and discussed in the meeting entitled “Marketplace workshop on nutrition and physical activities best practices”that took place at the Joint Research Centre in Ispra (Italy) on 15-16 March 2018. One of the best practices presented was dedicated to the work of OQALI and JANPA WP5. During the 4th SGPP meeting on 11 April 2018, it was agreed that the MSs will select from the best practices via an online questionnaire.
- The WP4 team established close connections with the work of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on the economics of public health and health promotion, with the aim of trying to obtain results for more European countries in the near future.
A brochure by the European Commission summarises its activities in the areas of nutrition and physical activity.