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Gaining Health: Making Healthy Choices Easier – Italy

Summary

The Program “Gaining health: making healthy choices easier” is a national Government strategy, according to the principles of the “Health in All Policies”. The program promotes health and equity in health throughout the course of life. This means not only to ensure a good start to every child (with prevention interventions before pregnancy, protection of maternity and new families and protection interventions, promotion and support of breastfeeding), but also to prevent unhealthy behaviours that often are established during childhood and adolescence, to ensure education for all, to reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adults, to get to a healthy and active aging. Interventions of the program are therefore targeted to the citizens in all ages, in the contexts of life and work. The program develops a “life course” approach and intersectorial policies for preventing non communicable diseases with the aim to: tackle health inequalities; support food choices nutritionally correct; promote an active lifestyle; guide policies to build urban environments that encourage physical activity. In developing the national strategy, the Ministry of Health (MoH) plays a leading role by advocating, inspiring and guiding the multisectoral action. MoH signs several “Memoranda of understanding” with other Ministries, other public and private sectors, in order to achieve specific objectives. These policies are implemented by the intervention of various Ministries, Italian Regions, Public Healthcare System, Municipalities as well as by agreements with producers and distributors and other involved subjects. National and local government, with the leadership of the Health system, acts through: information, which can increase awareness; regulatory actions, included in intersectoral strategies to change the living environment; allocation of specific resources to support exemplary actions. Gaining Health policies aims to (for example):

  • encourage movement and physical exercise (public transport and urban green spaces)
  • encourage fruit and vegetable intake
  • reduce the concentration of salt, sugars and fats in foods
  • reduce the amount of high calories food in the diet
  • discourage smoking as much as possible
  • reduce alcohol abuse

This can be achieved through: the development and strengthening of policies and programmes promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing chronic conditions, with special emphasis on “health determinants”; through the implementation of appropriate “cross-sector” policies at the national, regional and local levels. Actions include not only information and education activities, promoted by the health sector, but also advocacy and active involvement of sectors outside the health system, both government and civil society. The main “intermediate” targets are health care providers but also stakeholders such as teachers, administrators, associations, citizens themselves. They are involved in training activities with the objectives to: update on the requirements and the available knowledge about the health impact of the main risk factors; knowledge of communication as a means of promoting health; use of tools to support interventions for health promotion.

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Life Cycle Stages: Whole life cycle | 
Main Settings: community | 
Specific Topics: mental health | nutrition | physical activity | substance abuse | vaccination | 

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