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Sustainable prevention of obesity through integrated strategies: The SPOTLIGHT project’s conceptual framework and design

Jeroen Lakerveld1*, Johannes Brug1, Sandra Bot1, Pedro J Teixeira2, Harry Rutter3, Euan Woodward4, Oddrun Samdal5, Lynn Stockley6, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij7, Patricia van Assema8, Aileen Robertson9, Tim Lobstein10, Jean-Michel Oppert11, Róza Ádány12, Giel Nijpels1 and on behalf of the SPOTLIGHT consortium

Author Affiliations

1 The EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research and the departments of General Practice and Epidemiology & Biostatistics, VU University Medical Center, van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081, BT, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Technical University of Lisbon, Faculty of Human Kinetics, FMH, Estrada da Costa, 1495-688, Cruz Quebrada, Portugal

3 European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SH, UK

4 European Association for the Study of Obesity, 113-119 High Street, Hampton Hill, Middlesex, TW12 1NJ, UK

5 Department of Health Promotion and Development, University of Bergen, PO Box 7808, NO-5020, Bergen, Norway

6 BHF Health Promotion Research Group, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7LF, UK

7 Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Watersportlaan 2, 9000, Ghent, Belgium

8 Department of Health Promotion, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200, MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands

9 Metropolitan University College (Metropol), Pustervig 8, DK-1126, Copenhagen, Denmark

10 International Obesity TaskForce/International Association for the Study of Obesity, Charles Darwin House, 12 Roger Street, London, WC1N 2JU, UK

11 University of Paris 13 (UP13), UREN/Center for Human Nutrition Research (CRNH) Ile-de-France, SMBH, 75 avenue Marcel Cachin, 93017, Bobigny, France

12 Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Debrecen, Medical and Health Science Center, Faculty of Public Health, Kassai Street 26, 4028, Debrecen, Hungary

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:793  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-793

Published: 17 September 2012



The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Europe is high. It is a major cause of the overall rates of many of the main chronic (or non communicable) diseases in this region and is characterized by an unequal socio-economic distribution within the population. Obesity is largely determined by modifiable lifestyle behaviours such as low physical activity levels, sedentary behaviour and consumption of energy dense diets. It is increasingly being recognised that effective responses must go beyond interventions that only focus on a specific individual, social or environmental level and instead embrace system-based multi-level intervention approaches that address both the individual and environment. The EU-funded project “sustainable prevention of obesity through integrated strategies” (SPOTLIGHT) aims to increase and combine knowledge on the wide range of determinants of obesity in a systematic way, and to identify multi-level intervention approaches that are strong in terms of Reach, Efficacy, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance (RE-AIM).


SPOTLIGHT comprises a series of systematic reviews on: individual-level predictors of success in behaviour change obesity interventions; social and physical environmental determinants of obesity; and on the RE-AIM of multi-level interventions. An interactive web-atlas of currently running multi-level interventions will be developed, and enhancing and impeding factors for implementation will be described. At the neighbourhood level, these elements will inform the development of methods to assess obesogenicity of diverse environments, using remote imaging techniques linked to geographic information systems. The validity of these methods will be evaluated using data from surveys of health and lifestyles of adults residing in the neighbourhoods surveyed. At both the micro- and macro-levels (national and international) the different physical, economical, political and socio-cultural elements will be assessed.


SPOTLIGHT offers the potential to develop approaches that combine an understanding of the obesogenicity of environments in Europe, and thus how they can be improved, with an appreciation of the individual factors that explain why people respond differently to such environments. Its findings will inform governmental authorities and professionals, academics, NGOs and private sector stakeholders engaged in the development and implementation of policies to tackle the obesity epidemic in Europe.

Obesity; Prevention; Adults; Environment; Lifestyle behaviour