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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


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 government approved healthcare general sector’s strategy in the Government Decision no. 1039/2015. (II. 10) (1039/2015. (II. 10.) Korm. határozat) on the 'Healthy Hungary 2014-2020' Healthcare Sectoral Strategy’s acceptance, although it is not a special youth strategy, there is no specific strategic document.

The document was prepared in 2014 by the State Secretariat for Health (Egészségügyért Felelős Államtitkársága) of the Ministry of Human Capacities [Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma (referred hereinafter to as: EMMI)]. The strategy was made for the 2014-2020/2022 period since it is primarily linked to the EU’s macro-level comprehensive and policy strategies and fund-raising opportunities.

The document outlines the general sectoral targets for the next period. It includes that by 2020 the estimated years spent healthy should grow by two years, and by 2022 this figure should reach the EU average. Furthermore, an important aim is to strengthen personal responsibility in maintaining health, and to lower the difference in health conditions of residents in certain parts of the country.

Among the explicit aims concerning youth, the healthcare strategy also emphasises:

  • the modernisation of children’s healthcare institutions
  • establishing the currently missing children’s and youth’s healthcare centres
  • setting up an adolescent psychiatric and addictology network. 

National health programmes

For the support of the health care system the Government of Hungary applied 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, longer life for its citizens with wide-ranging government support. The programmes are targeted at society as a whole but some of its segments 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’: to eradicate 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, Communal 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 communal catering and healthy eating.

School Fruit Scheme

The Ministry of Rural Development’s Decree no. 50/2012. (V. 25) [50/2012. (V. 25.) VM rendelet] on the implementation of the School Fruit 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 communal 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 communal catering, which aims to change the basics of the general culture of communal 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:

  1. Carbonated or sugary soft drinks are forbidden
  2. It is forbidden to use meat with high-fat content
  3. It is forbidden to put salt or sugar bowls on tables
  4. It is forbidden to add sugar to milk offered to drink
  5. It is forbidden to use food powders, stock-cubes, seasoning creams, pastes; only for substance development or seasoning.  

Medical Officer Service​

As the initiative of the Medical Officer Service, a programme started in 2010 in Békés County. Since then, 250 kitchens have joined. The purpose of the programme is to improve public catering, taking into consideration the following:

  1. Expanding the range of foods included in public catering
  2. Creating new meals
  3. Use of healthy raw materials
  4. Involve the raw materials produced by small local producers
  5. Improving the material conditions of catering.  

Canteen Programme (Mintamenza Programme) ​

The objective of the Canteen Programme (Mintamenza Program) was to increase the proportion of local and organic food to 30 per cent in school menus. The programme aims to involve fish and game meat bred in Hungary in communal catering.


Nationwide surveys of the National Food and Nutrition Institute

The National Food and Nutrition Institute (Országos Élelmezés- és Táplálkozástudományi Intézet) regularly performs nationwide surveys to assess the status of kindergarten and school meals. Two hundred fifty-seven schools and their kitchens took part in the survey after a representative sample selection. The survey aims to provide a nationwide picture of the situation of school meals in the communal catering sector.


'Healthy Hungary 2014-2020'

The 'Healthy Hungary 2014-2020' government programme ('Egészséges Magyarország 2014-2020') includes the promotion of a healthy lifestyle for children and youth, and healthy eating is part of its elements concerning healthy physical and mental development. Section 1.1 Tourism based on health (Egészségiparra épülő turizmus) of the New Széchenyi Plan 'The Healing Hungary - Health Programme' ('A Gyógyító Magyarország – Egészségipari Program') states that:

'in the context of the development of gastronomy and catering, financial opportunities should be provided for businesses engaged in catering (including public catering) to start modernising machinery and equipment, so that a nutritional reform, which is essential for the creation of a healthy lifestyle, can take place. The kitchens of both institutional and open-label catering establishments should be made suitable to serve modern nutritional needs. By developing the technical background of the catering industry, it is possible to create a good foundation for the spread of healthy gastronomic trends with modern raw materials.

By supporting institutional catering, it is possible to develop the nutrition culture of young people and to preserve their health. The canteen reform started in children’s catering can significantly contribute to healthy children to become adults who eat healthily and consciously, with a significant workload. With education, knowledge dissemination, innovative technologies and the promotion of quality raw materials, in general, it is possible to increase […] the quality of catering, with particular regard to children’s catering which is extremely important for the future'.


    'The Buda Area Health Programme'

    On 25 September 2019, the WHO, in co-operation with EMMI, organised a workshop aimed at establishing and launching the Hungarian Public Health Partnership. Participants from public health and related disciplines agreed that only complex, participatory, multi-stakeholder interventions could improve the health of the population 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) is 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 co-operation with EMMI, with the Secretariat Responsible for Family and Youth Issues (Család- és Ifjúságügyért Felelős Államtitkárság) and with the Secretariat Responsible for Sport (Sportért Felelős Államtitkárság).

    One of the programme aims to improve children's health which would indirectly promote Hungarian public health renewal. The implementation of the 2-year project started at the end of 2019 from a HUF 100 million grant source. 


    Health education and healthy lifestyles education in schools


    There is no compulsory healthcare education in the elementary and high schools in Hungary. The government is trying to support students studying in healthcare secondary schools, thus increasing the number of participants in this type of training.

    Scholarship programme for students in healthcare vocational schools

    The government is currently launching a scholarship programme (ösztöndíjprogram) for students in healthcare vocational schools. The scholarship programme is funded by the Human Resource Development Operational Programme (Emberi Erőforrás Fejlesztési Operatív Program - EFOP) of HUF 4.4 billion (about EUR 14 193 550) and is expected to support 3 200 students during their studies. Thus, the monthly scholarship can reach up to about EUR 130 (HUF 40 000).

    Comprehensive Health Promotion at school

    The 2011 modification of the Act on Healthcare (2011. évi CLXXVI. törvény az egyes egészségügyi tárgyú törvények módosításáról) puts the Comprehensive Health Promotion at school in writing. As the decree defines, the aim of the comprehensive health promotion at school is for every child to participate in health-promoting activities daily to develop their physical and mental health and well-being.

    The new Comprehensive Health Promotion has come into force and feedback will be evaluated by the end of the year. Other programmes can be set up, which will be in line with the needs pointed out in self-assessment of the institutions. Programmes adapted to the local circumstances and related to the Comprehensive Health Promotion would be a great complement to the ongoing processes.

    These are the following:

    • healthy diet
    • daily physical activity
    • physical and mental health promotion
    • prevention of behavioural dependencies and substance abuse
    • prevention of school violence
    • accident prevention and first aid
    • personal hygiene.

    To develop their mental and physical health and well-being, students should be part of health-promoting activities with the involvement of the whole school professional team. The schools’ education programme should integrate tasks related to comprehensive health promotion and prevention and should be implemented in co-operation with school health services.

    Local health promotion programme

    The schools should develop (in co-operation with school health service) the local health promotion programme, in line with the law.

    According to Section 27 of 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 Act, in the 2014/2015 school year students in 1st-2nd-3rd; 5th-6th-7th, 9th-10th-11thclasses did have daily physical education classes, which equals 5 times 45 minutes physical education per week. In the 2015/2016 school year, everyday physical education concept was implemented in all 12 grades of public education.


    Sex education and personal relationships education

    In Hungary, sex education is nowadays referred to as 'family life education' in which sex is only mentioned tangentially, or 'sexual 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 healthcare vocational training deal with health, including the topic of sexual education.

    The development of relationship culture, the education for responsible family life are the main tasks of the State Secretariat Responsible for Family and Youth Matters (Család-és Ifjúságügyért Felelős Államtitkárság), in the implementation of which, the State Secretariat Responsible for Healthcare (Egészségügyért Felelős Államtitkárság) also participates, concerning its cognisance.

    The promotion and protection of health is a social responsibility, one of the base conditions of which is the improvement of the health-literacy, health consciousness of the population, the proper transmission of the information on their health towards the Hungarian population. The education for a healthy lifestyle should be started at the youngest age groups, one of the most critical scenes of which is the school.

    According to section 3 of §128. EMMI regulation no. 20/2012. (VIII. 31.) [20/2012. (VIII. 31.) EMMI rendelet a nevelési-oktatási intézmények működéséről és a köznevelési intézmények névhasználatáról] of the above mentioned EMMI regulation, in the everyday activity of the educational 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, with, among others, 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, among others, is to support steady psychic development and to positively affect the changes of personality.

    Secondary School

    Secondary school students cover the issues related to sexuality in the 11-12th grades (a 11-12. évfolyamon), also in the framework of ethics and biology – healthcare subjects, on a higher level than in primary school, mentioning problems such as sexual data fishing or defence against sexual diseases.

    'Education for family life'

    It is not a compulsory subject of instruction, schools can teach 'Education for family life' (with sex education as its central topics) at the expense of their freely planned classes in the 1 to 12th grades. 'Education for family life' is detailed in next section, 'Collaboration 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


    More information and training are provided on sex education and the preparation of teachers by various ecclesiastical and civil organisations.

    '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 ecclesiastically maintained Christian society of education, the Timothy Society (Timóteus Társaság), created a programme called 'Youth on Life Threshold' ('Fiatalok az élet küszöbén') in 1994 with the aim of helping young people to develop healthy self-knowledge, meaningful relationships, joyful sexuality, having a happy family life and establishing a stable value system, and teaching them to say no to the various environmental pressures. Various manuals are provided 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 programme) is curated by an ecclesiastical organisation. The most important 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, primary and secondary schools have been teaching about family planning, education and family life. Family life-training sessions are called 'family-lessons', dealing with young people aged 7 to 24 years old.

    MFM project

    The 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 899 'Cycle-shows' about the program for 11 563 girls and 5 977 adults from 15 May 2007 to 31 December 2016.

    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, Ars Erotica Foundation (Ars Erotica Alapítvány) has a similar role. Elementary and secondary school classes and groups have sex education sessions within their classes. In its positive-minded, diverse methodological tools-based activities, the emphasis on awareness-raising and skills development is more significant than knowledge transfer. They support young people to become sexually conscious, healthy adults.

    The Ars Erotica Foundation also has methodological training, in addition to delivering information on sexuality, helping educators and youth workers to handle more deliberately, creatively and confidently, topics that are usually delicate. Additionally, traineeships are held for professionals in whose work the body and sexuality are present daily (family and youth workers, health professionals, social workers, special educators, asylum experts, etc.). This training helps to manage situations where young people felt individual differences in body, gender roles or sexuality.

    Labrisz Lesbian Association

    The Labrisz Lesbian Association (Labrisz Leszbikus Egyesület) holds sessions based on school invitations, the aim of which is to cease prejudices concerning homosexuality.

    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. Within the app, with a chat, young people can ask their questions anonymously and receive personalised responses from Yelon's trained specialists. With the free app, it is easy to access private chat and web content.


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


    From 2013, 61 Health Promotion Offices have been working throughout the country, mainly in disadvantaged regions. In 2013 they could reach 170 000 people, 46 000 people living in disadvantaged areas.

    The primary roles of the Health Promotion Offices are to implement individual health check and risk assessment, to organise health promotion programs and to co-ordinate and monitor the activities of the different health promotion organisations.

    In the future, they plan to co-ordinate the activities of individual offices and offer thematic programmes every month. In September 2017, the topics were school environment, mass catering and the family as a protective net.