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Open Access Correspondence

Evidence-based development of school-based and family-involved prevention of overweight across Europe: The ENERGY-project's design and conceptual framework

Johannes Brug1*, Saskia J te Velde1, Mai JM Chinapaw2, Elling Bere3, Ilse de Bourdeaudhuij4, Helen Moore5, Lea Maes6, Jorgen Jensen7, Yannis Manios8, Nanna Lien9, Knut Inge Klepp9, Tim Lobstein10, Marloes Martens11, Jo Salmon12 and Amika S Singh2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Department of Public & Occupational Health and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3 Faculty of Health and Sport, Agder University, Kristiansand, Norway

4 Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

5 Obesity related behaviours research group, Durham University, Durham, UK

6 Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

7 Institute of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

8 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece

9 Department of Nutrition, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

10 International Association for the Study of Obesity, London, UK

11 Rescon, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

12 Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:276  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-276

Published: 25 May 2010

Abstract

Background

There is an urgent need for more carefully developed public health measures in order to curb the obesity epidemic among youth. The overall aim of the "EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth" (ENERGY)-project is the development and formative evaluation of a theory-informed and evidence-based multi-component school-based and family-involved intervention program ready to be implemented and evaluated for effectiveness across Europe. This program aims at promoting the adoption or continuation of health behaviors that contribute to a healthy energy balance among school-aged children. Earlier studies have indicated that school and family environments are key determinants of energy-balance behaviors in schoolchildren. Schools are an important setting for health promotion in this age group, but school-based interventions mostly fail to target and involve the family environment.

Methods

Led by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from eleven European countries and supported by a team of Australian experts, the ENERGY-project is informed by the Environmental Research Framework for Weight gain Prevention, and comprises a comprehensive epidemiological analysis including 1) systematic reviews of the literature, 2) secondary analyses of existing data, 3) focus group research, and 4) a cross European school-based survey.

Results and discussion

The theoretical framework and the epidemiological analysis will subsequently inform stepwise intervention development targeting the most relevant energy balance-related behaviors and their personal, family-environmental and school-environmental determinants applying the Intervention Mapping protocol. The intervention scheme will undergo formative and pilot evaluation in five countries. The results of ENERGY will be disseminated among key stakeholders including researchers, policy makers and the general population.

Conclusions

The ENERGY-project is an international, multidisciplinary effort to develop and test an evidence-based and theory-informed intervention program for obesity prevention among school-aged children.