The CO-CREATE Youth Declaration: youth demand action for youth
To prevent overweight among adolescents we need to work with young people! That is why the CO-CREATE project is proud to present the CO-CREATE Youth Declaration. Written and adopted by young people, the declaration demands political change to secure a healthy life for all young people!
Over the last year, youth from five European countries have participated in the CO-CREATE project, sharing their ideas on how one can develop better and healthier societies. Together with CO-CREATE researchers, they have formed CO-CREATE Youth Alliances for Overweight Prevention, a network to learn more about the obesity epidemic and to develop and refine obesity-related policy ideas.
“As an adolescent, I can’t turn a blind eye to this issue. I feel like I need to do more than just criticize the system. I do not want to be the guy that is first to speak up, but the last to act”, said Pedro Gonçalves when asked why he wanted to join the CO-CREATE-project.
Not only have the CO-CREATE youth met up in each of their countries – but representatives from the Youth Alliances have also convened in the international CO-CREATE Youth Declaration Task Force. Here, they have developed a declaration, urging states and the European Union (EU) to address growing obesity rates through a systems approach.
“I believe that we can draw politicians and other stakeholders' attention to the obesity problem and force them to make a change in close cooperation with us”, explains Task Force member Zuzanna Burzyńska.
The CO-CREATE Youth Declaration raises the four following policy demands, aimed at policymakers at the national and EU-level:
- Stop all marketing of unhealthy foods to children under the age of 18 years.
- Secure all children high-quality, practical based food and nutrition education in school and a healthy school cafeteria.
- Implement a sugar-sweetened beverage tax to make unhealthy foods more expensive.
- Offer all children and adolescents free, organized physical activities at least once every week.
The Youth Taskforce valued their peers' insights throughout the process of drafting the Youth Declaration.
“I think it is important that young people eat healthier, and I think it is important that we, as youth, can make this happen”, said Sanne De Bruyn, a Youth Task Force member from the Netherlands.
Since the adoption of the declaration, the members of the Youth Task Force have promoted the declaration at events including the City Food Symposium, EAT@Home webinar, and the CO-CREATE Youth Virtual Seminar. The declaration has been promoted on social media and in national newspapers.
“The youth declaration is important because all children deserve the same opportunity to a healthy life, regardless of their financial situation or vulnerability”, stated Norwegian Task Force Member Tale Rørvik Lejon.
But the work is not over! In May 2021, the Youth Task Force will host the first regional CO-CREATE Dialogue Forum to discuss and further refine one of the demands in the Youth Declaration. The fruits of the dialogue will also feed into the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit.
In the words of Portuguese Task Force member Ana Rita Marques, “This declaration is a tool to empower young people by working to give them good health and show how we can achieve this. Taking care of ourselves should be a priority and that is what we want to spread!”
Task Force member Mafalda Gonçalves agrees: “I have learned that, if you want to make something happen, you need to work hard. Being motivated and in love with what you are doing means you are already halfway there. Also, if you want to see some change in your society, you need to take the first move and guarantee that you are heard by the people in power”.
You can stay updated on the work of the CO-CREATE Youth Declaration Task Force by following CO-CREATE on Twitter.
You can read the declaration here.
By; Margrete Bjørge Katanasho, PRESS, Norway & Claudia Selin Batz, World Obesity Federation, UK
Over a five-year period (2018-2023), CO-CREATE aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adolescents in Europe through policy actions to promote a healthier food and physical activity environment. The project’s vision is that before 2025, the rise in adolescent obesity will have come to a halt. By focusing on upstream factors and context change instead of on individual behaviour change, CO-CREATE will generate sustainable impacts that contribute to narrowing inequalities.
The CO-CREATE project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Work Programme 2016-2017: Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the bioeconomy) under grant agreement No 774210.