Catalonia’s Community of Practice (CoP) was conceived and built over the months of September and October. After separately liaising with the potential CoP members, and meeting with all of them online on three separate occasions in November 2023, the CoP was established and held its first in-person meeting on the 21st December 2023. The CoP gathered stakeholders from all relevant fields (researchers, nutritionists, physicians, educators, policy makers, etc.) to discuss the interventions currently being implemented by the Catalan administration and to evaluate their appropriateness for addressing childhood obesity and cancer prevention. New interventions for potential implementation in the following months were also proposed and discussed.  

The CoP meeting was organised and hosted by CERCA and included among its stakeholders representatives from the Departments of Health and Education, whose support is crucial for the upscaling of current policies and interventions as well as the endorsement of new initiatives.  

The coordinator of the meeting, Dr. Eduard Balbuena, presented PREVENT’s objectives and described what forming a CoP meant for the project. A CoP, which comprises a group of people from different fields, interact and complement each other’s expertise to reach a common goal. Each professional contributes their knowledge and expertise and the group works collaboratively to actively contribute to the project and resolve any challenges or setbacks that appear during its implementation. 

After the explanation of the PREVENT framework, Ana Bocio, Deputy Director General of Health Promotion from the Catalan Public Health Agency (ASPCAT) of the Catalan Department of Health, presented data on the current situation in Catalonia regarding obesity.  In addition, the preliminary results of interventions that are currently being implemented within different sites of the Catalan system were highlighted.  

Questions addressed during the meeting regarding proposed interventions included the array of indicators that should be used to evaluate the effectiveness of actions taken and how these implementations could be improved or broadened in scope. The CoP also discussed the aspects of children’s lives that contribute to obesity and how to better tackle them through the design of new interventions, strategies or policies. On this point, the CoP meeting highlighted the multifactorial nature of childhood obesity, and the need to act in the three main facets of a child’s life: school, family and society. 70% of all childhood obesity cases turn into adult obesity, and lifestyle (diet, sedentary habits, quantity and quality of sleep, etc.) is the environmental factor which has the biggest impact on this outcome. Nevertheless, there are also other issues contributing to childhood obesity: from publicity and media to the socioeconomic index of the child’s family or underlying mental health issues (i.e., anxiety, depression). Thus, to prevent childhood obesity, we must take into account all the factors that influence and promote obesity. These determinants need to be addressed not only at the school level but also within the context of family and community environments.  

The first onsite meeting proved to be successful and productive, and the CoP agreed to meet once a month either online or in person. The subsequent CoP meeting was held at the Barcelona consortium meeting which took place 9-10 January 2024.  The next CoP event is scheduled for March 2024. If you’d like to stay up to date and keep informed about PREVENT’s achievements, sign up for our newsletter here!