Don’t spend hours sitting in meetings

By June Shannon Obesity News   |   10th Jul 2018

New WHO/Europe guide helps you plan healthier meetings

“Making meetings healthier does not have to be complicated or expensive – and often makes them more enjoyable,” this is the view of Dr João Breda, Head of the World Health Organistation’s (WHO) European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases and Programme Manager ad interim of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at WHO/Europe, which has recently launched a new guide for employers and meeting organisers to promote healthier working environments.

“Planning healthy and sustainable meetings”, initially developed for WHO’s own employees, applies established health promotion principles to meetings and events.

According to WHO Europe, meetings often involve spending a lot of time in a seated position with minimal physical activity, limited access to fresh air and consumption of foods high in sugars and fats, such as cookies and other snacks during coffee breaks. In addition, disposable items such as handouts and plastic cutlery can lead to unnecessary environmental impact.

“Making meetings healthier does not have to be complicated or expensive – and often makes them more enjoyable,”

Dr João Breda, WHO/Europe

The guide touches upon four major elements of a healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle: a healthy diet, physical activity, a tobacco-free environment and sustainable practices. It gives concrete suggestions on how to apply them when planning a meeting to create a culture of health, well-being and sustainability.

“It sometimes comes as a bit of a surprise for participants to be asked to exercise in the middle of a quite formal technical meeting, but we have had a lot of positive feedback on those breaks – it really helps to freshen up, feel better and even refocus the discussion,” said Ms Tina Kiaer, Communications Officer at WHO/Europe.

The guide includes the following simple yet easily applicable ideas:

Through these and other positive changes, WHO encourages everyone to make work environments better for all.

Through these and other positive changes, WHO encourages everyone to make work environments better for all.

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Earlier this year Healthy Ireland launched its guidelines on healthy meetings in the workplace, which include advice on serving healthy food options at meetings or conferences and taking regular activity breaks.

Regular physical activity reduces everyone’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Encouraging employees to be active is good for both business and employee health.

For more information on maintaining a healthy workplace, check out the Irish Heart Foundation’s Active@Work and Sli@Work programme which encourages workplaces to support and motivate employees to get more active.

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