European Week of Sport was celebrated recently with representation from key European stakeholders across government, civil society, sport, culture and athletics. EASO was represented by Dr. Susanna Lehtinen-Jacks of Finland.
Dr. Lehtinen-Jacks, can you tell about your meeting in Eastonia? What was the theme and which organizations participated?
The meeting was an opening event of the #BeActive European Week of Sport, held in Tartu, Estonia on 22 September 2017. In spite of the name of the event, the theme was actually not just focused on physical activity but included healthy lifestyle in general. Key issues like defining a healthy lifestyle mean and developing strategies to make the healthy option the easy option were explored in two roundtable meetings with representatives from the WHO, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität (Germany), the WHO Collaborating Centre on Physical Activity and Public Health, the European Parliament, International University Sports Federation, European University of Sport, International Sport & Culture Association, European Healthy Lifestyle Alliance and EASO. The highlight of the meeting was when Mr. Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport issued the Tartu Call to Action for a Healthy Lifestyle. This statement, co-signed by Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health & Food Safety, and Mr. Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, sets out 15 joint actions to promote healthy lifestyles.
Many of our readers are interested in population level health and the relationship between public health, sport and physical activity. Was there also discussion of obesity and other chronic diseases in the context of sport and physical activity?
Yes, Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health & Food Safety highlighted childhood obesity and its potential complications, as well as other chronic diseases and premature mortality related to unhealthy lifestyles in his opening speech. Questions related to childhood obesity were directed to Joao Breda from the WHO during the first roundtable focusing on “What does healthy lifestyle mean; how can we live more healthy lives?”, and to me during the second roundtable focusing on “Enabling the environment – make the healthy option the easy option.” I was specifically asked to tell how I see this issue in the family context, and what the appropriate role of family might be vs the school in supporting young people to engage in physical activity. Another interesting issue area centred around whether technology is a help or a hindrance when promoting a healthy lifestyle.