Initially established in 2011 as the Alcohol Policy Youth Network, the International Youth Health Organization (YHO) connected organisations to work towards the prevention and reduction of alcohol-related harm. In 2018, the organisation decided to rename the network and expand the areas of work to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including mental health and environmental health. YHO develops and supports evidence-based and effective policies to assure health-promoting environments for young people.
From December 6-9 2019, YHO hosted its 1st NCD Youth Conference in Portorož, Slovenia. The Conference had six main goals:
- Raise interest among young people and youth organisations about prevention of NCDs and health policies;
- Promote evidence-based projects and exchange knowledge of good practices for health promotion;
- Empower the participants with the necessary skills and capacities in order to effectively work on the fields of NCDs;
- Empower the participants with the necessary tools to engage in advocating for more comprehensive health policies at regional, national and international levels;
- Provide the necessary tools and training for participants to be able to conduct projects to improve youth health;
- Give participants the opportunity for networking with public health professionals and organisations, working on the same topics.
Throughout the conference, a member of our policy team discussed the role of nutrition in addressing NCDs and the role youth can play. As adolescence represents a critical window of opportunity for effective prevention and health promotion with effects throughout the life-course, investing in adolescent health is critical. In addition to providing a brief overview of the burden of malnutrition around the world, we highlighted some of the benefits of CO-CREATE as a new research programme, aiming to bring in the voices of young people as means of identifying more effective solutions.
Following that presentation, World Obesity co-facilitated a workshop focused on the role of nutrition in the context of NCDs. Through an interactive 2-hour long session, the participants were prompted to identify the benefits, flaws and feasibility of specific nutrition-related policies including increasing taxes on unhealthy food, front-of-pack nutrition labelling, restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods and healthy school food policies.