The risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is cumulative over the life course and interventions aimed at reducing the risk of NCDs has higher impact in early life than interventions later in life (Hanson & Gluckman, 2011). Such findings point to the benefits of focusing on children and youth in health promotion. Further, Frohlich and Potvin (2008) suggested that focusing health promotion efforts on vulnerable populations is necessary to reduce inequities in health. Health promotion approaches aimed at the entire population should be supplemented by interventions specifically targeting vulnerable population groups and communities, as described by Rose (2001), to reduce inequities in health and to avoid a narrow focus on individual risk behaviour (Frohlich & Potvin, 2008). Therefore, we need to reach children and young people in settings and communities with a high risk of developing NCDs. Children and youth living in e.g. low socioeconomic status neighbourhoods or youth at vocational schools represent such settings and populations.
To promote more effective disease prevention and to ensure supportive and sustainable conditions for healthy choices for all citizens, there is a need for coordinated, inter-sectorial, multi-component and multi-level interventions (Bloch et al., 2014; Mikkelsen et al., 2016). Such interventions should be combined with democratic and participatory processes involving target groups and relevant stakeholders in defining, planning, and implementing interventions. This will increase the likelihood of sustainability by developing ownership of the intervention and ensuring that the intervention is meaningful and relevant to the target group. In accordance, the need for complex system level models for public health has recently been highlighted (Rutter et al., 2017), and in the team we incorporate this approach in our work.
Team Children and Youth aims:
- To support the development and implementation of interventions based on a systemic understanding and with the involvement of relevant stakeholders and the target group - and thereby extract new knowledge about effective initiatives, systems and models.
- For our interventions to have long-term impact. Therefore, the projects we work with must build capacity and be sustainable as well as have an implementation and pontential for scaling-up.
- To investigate processes in and effects of interventions, including developing and applying the right and necessary designs and methods so that they serve both practice and research needs.
- To influence policy and practice with our work. We therefore have a strong focus on both scientific and practice-relevant dissemination.
- That our efforts help reduce social inequities in health
Our work focuses on:
- Target groups: Children, families with children, and adolescent populations at increased risk (e.g. vocational school students).
- Settings: Schools, sports and nature settings, low socioeconomic status neighbourhoods, vocational education and training schools or other educational settings that include young people at risk.
- Physical, social and mental health, depending on the need and motivation of the target group. For example, we work with data-driven health promotion initiatives, where the initiative is defined locally based on local data. We have primary expertise in physical activity / movement / outdoor life and outdoor education, physical literacy and food literacy and smoke-free school time.
- Population-based interventions with a focus on reducing social inequities in health by being particularly effective for vulnerable groups.