Healthy Children, Healthy Weight - Making an Impact

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Dec 21, 2018
by Oscar Tollast
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Healthy Children, Healthy Weight - Making an Impact

Salzburg Global Fellows present their recommendations as Healthy Children, Healthy Weight reaches a conclusion Participants of Healthy Children, Healthy Weight outside Schloss Leopoldskron

Innovators from across the world have outlined new ways to help promote and safeguard children’s health and wellbeing.

On the final day of the Healthy Children, Healthy Weight program, participants presented outputs from their workgroup discussions with the aim to help improve children’s lives.

After four days of cross-border sharing and learning, more than 50 participants came together to outline the next steps forward and prepare recommendations for action.

In total, seven groups put forward ideas. The first group to present sought to reframe the debate for healthy children and make change happen at a higher level.

This group suggested creating a playbook of tactics which any broker or advocate of change could use to help push policies which better serve children. Brokers and advocates need to use their expertise, participants heard. These change-makers can move further forward by building alliances and aligning partnerships. Participants referred to this process as the “Salzburg schmooze” and indicated they had plans for a destination point where this information could be visible.

Building on this proposal, the next group to present discussed the need for a values-driven learning journey for child and family programs.

Participants in this group discussed developing a brief for practice leaders to better support meeting their program goals. As part of this process, the group developed five principles.

They argued the goal of learning and evaluation is to accompany, scaffold, and strength both child and family programs and their leaders. They said organizations could and should use data iteratively as possible to improve programming.

With data in mind, the group said many forms are valuable and have different weights to different stakeholders. This diversity of data should be taken into consideration. Various methods of learning and evaluation are appropriate for different phases and can contribute toward program learning.

Finally, the group indicated the voices of families and staff could strengthen the design of research and evaluation. This point is the most important to consider, participants heard.

Other parts of the group’s end-product included organizational readiness for evaluation, an overview of evaluation tools and instruments, ethical and equity considerations, and a glossary of terms. In short, the group’s end game is for leaders to have a more positive perspective when it comes to learning and evaluation.

Having discussed the “Salzburg schmooze,” participants were introduced to the “Salzburg shift” in the third presentation of the day.

This group’s members sought to revisit the model to optimize nutritional status and wellbeing that allows children to thrive across the world. Obesity and malnutrition can exist within the same country, and neither should be seen as separate challenges, participants heard.

The group focused on areas including food systems, policy, regulation and finance, cultural practices, and emerging knowledge.

Participants called for a greater understanding of the food system, reviewing the subsidies which fuel it and the shift needed to move toward a more localized approach. They also want to examine the relationship between industry and regulation, accessibility toward good food options, and the sugar tax dilemma.

By learning more about cultural practices in different parts of the world, participants heard healthy eating could be promoted further through education, community leaders, and institutions.

There is emerging knowledge concerning inflammation, infection, gut health, and the importance of sleep. Issues of intervention investing early are also gaining traction.

The group has split these topics into three groups: program-ready, worthy of further investigation, and implementation research. Moving forward, members hope to shift the conversation be it in the form of a publication or collaboration.

One message which emerged during the program is the variety of stakeholders involved in improving children’s health and wellbeing.

One group decided to focus on how a healthy food economy could drive a successful city – rethinking health from a business perspective.

Citing Amsterdam as an example, the presenter said the city had approximately 5,300 food outlets. Food marketing is everywhere and encourages people to spend money on “anytime food.” The approach, moving forward, should involve improving the quality of “anytime food.”

The presenter for this group indicated that government authority should be utilized, while consumer demands should be optimized. This process would also involve supporting shop owners.

An “anytime food” standard could be established by a council, for example. Shop owners could be supported through the creation of a ranking system for “anytime food” outlets, innovation challenges, and marketing and sales training.

This paradigm shift toward healthy food could also involve community debates, workshops targeted at children, capacity building, a multi-level approach reaching all aspects of a child’s circle of influence.

Another group worked on principles for governments to achieve health equity with a focus on indigenous and marginalized populations.

Members of this group said all children, young people, and their families are valued, have a sense of belonging and control of their own destiny. These communities are inclusive, adapt to change, actively seek out those who feel invisible and engage them.

The group aims to raise the visibility and voice of indigenous and marginalized people to achieve health equity. The group will do this through a paper that outlines principles for governments to shift power, mind-sets, policy and practice toward equity.

Principles for success include voice and aspiration, accountability, transparency, identifying and addressing inequity in the system, and acknowledging and addressing the past.

This work is targeted at all levels of government and will be influenced by indigenous leadership structures, including tribal authorities and other marginalized groups.

There is a lot of literature on scaling, but not enough on what it means when systems scale. This view was shared by the next group to put forward their idea.

This group focused on shifting power conditions to scale systems change, so all children, families, and communities thrive. Members of this group would like to work on an insight paper exploring the relationship between power, equity, and scale.

This approach includes examining the underlying hypothesis of power and its relationship to shaping conditions. During the presentation, participants heard how much of the focus had been on how to scale rather than the requirements needed to scale.

The group discussed five core elements including leaders, stakeholders, and audience; information and insights; agents and mindsets; funders and resources; and – linked to this all – equity factors. All elements must be addressed to create conditions for scale. There is a need to reconceptualize power, so it is more accessible to more people, participants heard.

The final group to present discussed the shared values and learnings which had emerged during the program. This group, which featured two participants, created an early draft of a potential Salzburg Statement, outlining a call to action. This document will be shared with other participants for their critique and feedback and will be worked on outside of the program.

Participants were reminded that the health of the world and the health of children were intrinsically linked, and this Statement could be a way to bring others on board with their ideas and recommendations.

As the discussion came to a close, participants were reminded of a quote by Astrid Lindgren to serve as inspiration: “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

Participants will continue to work on their ideas outside of Salzburg and move toward disseminating their reflections to a wider audience, including key stakeholders.


The program Healthy Children, Healthy Weight is part of Salzburg Global's multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation. This year’s program is being held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.