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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Hungary

Hungary

7. Health and Well-Being

7.4 Healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition

On this page
  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Encouraging healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition for young people
  3. Health education and healthy lifestyles education in schools
  4. Peer-to-peer education approaches
  5. Collaboration and partnerships
  6. Raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and on factors affecting the health and well-being of young people

National strategy(ies)

 

The Secretariat Responsible for Healthcare (Egészségügyért Felelős Államtitkárság), operates under the Ministry of Human Capacities (Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma), has prepared the 'Healthy Hungary 2021-2027' Healthcare Sectoral Strategy ('Egészséges Magyarország 2021-2027' Egészségügyi Ágazati Stratégia). Although it is not a youth-specific strategy, it includes provisions concerning youth.

The main objective is to strengthen personal responsibility in maintaining health and to reduce the differences in health status of residents in certain parts of the country.

Among the explicit goals concerning youth, the health strategy also highlights:

  • decreasing child poverty and its effects,
  • ensuring the opportunity to start a healthy life,
  • preventing chronic diseases in adulthood from an early age,
  • establishing health centres for children and adolescents, which are currently lacking.

The Public Education Strategy made for the European Union 2021-2030

The Hungarian Government adopted the new Public Education Strategy made for the European Union (az Európai Unió számára készített köznevelési stratégia 2021 - 2030) in 2021. One specific aim of the Strategy is to 'Ensure the internal balance of the education' which means the aligned intellective, mental and physical development of the students and the development of the childhood institutional care. This aim includes programmes for

  • strengthening national identity,
  • family life education,
  • the development of the artistic competencies,
  • health preservation,
  • sustainability,
  • digital child protection,
  • the reduction of bullying.

 

The '5 national health programmes'

In order to support the health system, the Hungarian Government has established the '5 national health programmes' (nemzeti egészségügyi programok) with the Decree no. 1722/2018. (XII. 18.) [1722/2018. (XII. 18.) Korm. határozat] to enable Hungary to achieve a healthier, and longer life for Hungarian citizens with far-reaching state support. The programmes are aimed at society as a whole, but some of their segments also apply to young people. The five programmes are the

  • 'National Anti-Cancer Programme'
  • 'National Circulation Programme'
  • 'National Musculoskeletal Programme'
  • 'National Mental Health Programme'
  • 'National Child Health Programme': eradicting child poverty and its effects, to ensure a chance to start a healthy life, to prevent chronic diseases in adults from an early age.

The programmes were adapted in 2018 and its implemention run till 2030 based on the Government Decree.

Encouraging healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition for young people

 

Healthy eating is regulated by different decisions of the EMMI, Community catering in Hungary affecting 1/20 of the residents daily. The laws regulating the sector try to influence suppliers and service providers to move towards the reform of community catering and healthy eating.

School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme

The Ministry of Rural Development's Decree no. 15/2021. (III. 31.) [15/2021. (III. 31.) AM rendelet] on the implementation of the School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme contains the School Fruit and Vegetables Programme in Hungary, part of the European School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme, which is realised with the help of the European Union's financial support.

Nutrition-healthcare regulations concerning community catering

In April 2014, the Ministry of Human Resources’ Decree no. 37/2014. (IV. 30.) [37/2014. (IV. 30.) EMMI rendelet] was enforced on the nutrition-healthcare regulations concerning community catering, which aims to change the basics of the general culture of community catering in Hungary by setting healthy nutrition as a priority. The decree regulates the preparation and nutrient content of food served in school canteens and hospitals.

The main prohibitions are the following:

  • carbonated or sugary soft drinks are forbidden,
  • it is forbidden to use meat with high-fat content,
  • it is forbidden to put salt or sugar bowls on tables,
  • it is forbidden to add sugar to milk offered to drink,
  • it is forbidden to use food powders, stock-cubes, seasoning creams, pastes; only for substance development or seasoning.

 

Canteen Programme (Mintamenza Programme) ​

The aim of the Canteen Programme (Mintamenza Program) was to increase the proportion of local and organic food to 30 per cent of school menus. The programme aims to include fish and game meat raised in Hungary in community catering.

 

Nationwide surveys of the National Food and Nutrition Institute

The National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition (Országos Gyógyszerészeti és Élelmezés-egészségügyi Intézet) regularly conducts nationwide surveys to assess the status of kindergarten and school catering (Országos iskolai MENZA körkép). 139 schools and their kitchens took part in the survey of 2016/2017. The survey aims to get a nationwide picture of the situation of school catering in the community catering sector.

    'The Buda Area Health Programme'

    On 25 September 2019, the WHO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Capacities, organised a workshop to establish and launch the Hungarian Public Health Partnership. Participants, from the field of public health and related disciplines, agreed that only complex, participatory and multi-stakeholder interventions can improve population health at national, regional and local levels (according to the information provided by the Ministry in 2020).

    As the result of this workshop the 'Buda Area Health Programme' (Budakörnyéki Egészségprogram) was developed as an international model programme. It is implemented by the National Koranyi Institute of Pulmunology (Országos Korányi Pulmunológiai Intézet) and the Budakörnyéki Municipal Association (Budakörnyéki Önkormányzati Társulás) in cooperation with the Ministry of Human Capacities and with the Secretariat Responsible for Sport (Sportért Felelős Államtitkárság).

    One of the aim of the programme is to improve children's health which would indirectly promote the renewal of Hungarian public health. The implementation of the 2-year project started at the end of 2019 with a grant of HUF 100 million (about EUR 258 thousands). 

     

    Health education and healthy lifestyles education in schools

    The new National Core Curriculum 

    The new National Core Curriculum (Nemzeti Alaptanterv) which was announced in 2020, states that one main aim of the Science class is that students acquire the habits of the healthy lifestyle. In more details, the student should be aware of the basic principles and components of healthy lifestyle and be aware of the necessary activities for the development of physical and mental health. The Biology class emphasises also that the student has to use the knowledge on the human body in the decisions concerning healthy lifestyle. In addition, the student has to orientate and think about his/her own physical and mental health and has to consider it valuable and act for it daily.

    Scholarship programme for students in healthcare vocational schools

    In 2017, the Government has introduced a scholarship programme (ösztöndíjprogram) for students of vocational schools in the health sector. The scholarship programme was funded by a HUF 4.4 billion (about EUR 14.2 million) Human Resource Development Operational Programme (Emberi Erőforrás Fejlesztési Operatív Program - EFOP) and was aimed to support 3 200 students during their studies. The monthly scholarship can therefore be up to EUR 130 (HUF 40 000). The programme lasts for 55 months so it is still ongoing.

     

    Local health promotion programme

    The schools should develop (in collaboration with school health services) the local health promotion programme, that complies with the Act.

    According to the Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education from 2011 (2011. évi CXC. törvény a nemzeti köznevelésről)

    'In day-time education, in classes teaching subjects in cultural domains, schools shall organise daily physical education within five physical education classes per week, of which no more than two curricular classes per week may be substituted by

    a) education organisation forms and sports disciplinary teaching specified in the physical education provisions of the general curriculum,

    b) sports activities pursued within school sports clubs,

    c) organised training within a sports organisation, based on the request of students who are either certified members of a competitive sports club or have an amateur sports contract.' (Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education)

    Based on this law, in the 2014/2015 school year, Grade 1 to 2 to 3, Grade 5 to 6 to 7 and Grade 9 to 10 to 11 students had daily physical education, which is equivalent to 5 times 45 minutes of physical education per week. In the 2015/2016 school year, the concept of daily physical education was introduced in all 12 classes of the public school system.

     
    Sex education and the promotion of health protection in education

    In Hungary today, sex education is referred to as 'family education' in which sex is mentioned in passing, or as 'sex education', which focuses on the physical aspects of sex.

    The so-called common modules (11152-16 Health educational and development activity, 11221-16 Basic care) of the health care vocational training deal with health, including the topic of sexual education.

    The promotion and protection of health is a social responsibility, the basic requirements of which include the improvement of the population's health literacy and health awareness, as well as the appropriate dissemination of information about their health to the Hungarian population. Education for a healthy lifestyle should start at the youngest ages, with school being one of the most important venues.

    According to the EMMI regulation no. 20/2012. (VIII. 31.) [20/2012. (VIII. 31.) EMMI rendelet a nevelési-oktatási intézmények működéséről és a köznevelési intézmények névhasználatáról] in the everyday activity of the education institution, they should pay particular attention, based on the child’s and the student’s right to health, security, to tasks related to the full-scale health development, including the topic of prevention of abuse and school violence. Based on the EMMI regulation, the aim of the mental health development taking place in the educational institution is to support steady psychic development and to positively affect the changes of personality.

    Secondary School

    In secondary school, the topics of sexuality are dealt with at a higher level than in primary school in grades 9-10 (Biológia kerettanterv a 9-10. évfolyam számára), also within the framework of the subjects of ethics and biology - health, addressing problems such as fishing for sexual data or defence against sexual diseases.

    'Education for family life'

    This is not a compulsory subject, schools can teach 'Education for Family Life' (with sex education as a central theme) at the expense of their freely planned lessons in grades 1 to 12. 'Education for family life' is explained in more detail in the next sub-section, 'Cooperation and partnership'.

     

    Peer-to-peer education approaches

     

    Peer-to-peer (teaching each other – learning from each other) is not a new initiative in pedagogy, nor in the content regulations. Cooperative study organising methods are mentioned in the National Core Curriculum (Nemzeti Alaptanterv), at the general introduction, at the introductions of specific fields of literacy, and certain subjects also.

     

    Collaboration and partnerships

    Various church and civil organisations offer more information and training on sexuality education and teacher preparation.

    'Youth on Life Threshold'

    At the request of the AIDS-prevention group of the National Institute of Health (Nemzeti Egészségvédelmi Intézet AIDS-megelőzési csoportja), the church-based Christian educational society, the Timothy Society (Timóteus Társaság), launched a programme called 'Youth at the Threshold of Life' ('Fiatalok az élet küszöbén') in 1994 to help young people to develop healthy self-knowledge, meaningful relationships, joyful sexuality, a happy family life and a stable value system, and to teach them to say no to the various environmental pressures. They offer various manuals for teachers and informative publications for young people.

    'For Happier Families'

    The 'For Happier Families' Family Life Education School Programme ('Boldogabb családokért' családi életre nevelés iskolai program) is curated by an church-based organisation. The main aim of the programme is to protect and strengthen marriage and the family. They regularly give lectures, courses and counselling for young people and married couples across the country. Since 1993, they have been teaching about family planning, education and family life in primary and secondary schools. The training sessions on family life are called 'family-lessons', and are aimed at young people aged 7 to 24.

    MFM project

    The 'My Fertility Matters' (MFM)  project (MFM-Projekt) as a church initiative was launched in Hungary in November 2005. The founder of the Munich programme took over the training of Hungarian MFM staff. The first training was held in Budapest, in November 2006. The second and the third were organised in April 2013 and November 2016 in Kecskemét. There are currently 41 MFM consultants in the country.

    Since the project’s launch in Hungary, MFM co-workers held a total of 2239 'Cycle-shows' for 28 213 girls and provided information about the programme to 16 630 adults from 15 May 2007 to 31 December 2020.

    The central idea of the 'Cycle show' programme ('Ciklus-show' programme) is as follows: the self-image and feelings of adolescent girls are primarily determined by how they experience and appreciate their bodies, what messages they hear with their body - and thus about themselves. Experiencing the value of one’s own body is essential to be able to handle his/her health, fertility and sexuality responsibly.

    Ars Erotica Foundation

    In the civil sector the Ars Erotica Foundation (Ars Erotica Alapítvány) has a similar task. They conduct sex education lessons in primary and secondary school classes and groups as part of their curriculum. Their positively oriented activities, based on multiple methodological tools, focus more on raising awareness and developing skills than on imparting knowledge. They support young people in becoming sexually aware, healthy adults.

    In addition to providing information about sexuality, the Ars Erotica Foundation also offers methodological training to help educators and youth workers deal more consciously, creatively and confidently with issues that are usually sensitive. In addition, internships are provided for professionals in whose work body and sexuality are present on a daily basis (family and youth workers, health professionals, social workers, special educators, asylum professionals, etc.). These trainings help to deal with situations where young people feel individual differences in terms of body, gender roles or sexuality.

    Hintalovon Children's Rights Foundation

    An important civil initiative is Yelon, the online sex education program of the Hintalovon Children's Rights Foundation (Hintalovon Gyermekjogi Alapítvány) for children aged 10 to 18 years old and responsible adults. Yelon is a sex education website and phone application. In the app, young people can ask their questions anonymously via a chat and receive personal answers from Yelon's trained specialists. The free app makes it easy to access private chats and web content.

     

    Raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and on factors affecting the health and well-being of young people

     

    Since 2014, 61 Health Promotion Offices have been operating across the country, mainly in disadvantaged regions. In 2013 they were able to reach 170 000 people, 46 000 of whom live in disadvantaged areas. In 2021, 113 Offices were operating. They are usually linked to the local hospitals or operate individually.

    The offices offer thematic programmes, in September 2017, the topics were the school environment, community catering and the family as a safety net. (For more information on Health Promotion Offices, see sub-chapter 7.2 Administration and Governance)