Today, young people under the age of 25 represent the largest part of the population. As our next generation of leaders, policymakers and workforce, we need to ensure youth health is a focal point of developed policies. True and lasting impact to positively influence youth health, including overweight and obesity, will not only need to include young people’s input, perspective and suggestions: the leadership of young people themselves need to be part of the answer.
Healthy Voices, a joint online capacity-building platform for both the STOP and CO-CREATE projects, aims to do that. Oriented towards youth aged 15-20 years old, it features youth-friendly content developed from both projects’ outputs to aid youth engagement and empowerment in policymaking, as well as serve as an advocacy tool and provides toolkits, blogs and other interaction material. It is an opportunity for young people to engage with other adolescents and experts across Europe. Given the central role of youth today and in the future, the review of youth-oriented literature and guidelines allowed us to identify four central mechanisms to promote youth engagement:
- Unfreeze the culture and recognise the need for a cultural shift
- Catalyse knowledge into action by nominating champions
- Internalise change by creating and taking advantage of existing opportunities
- Institutionalise youth engagement into policy and standards to ensure it becomes a consistent practice.
It is therefore essential to ensure youth have access to appropriate resources that will help increase their overall health literacy, specifically regarding nutrition policies.