7.4 Healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition
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The Government's youth health strategy #Young people health – the Norwegian Government’s strategy for young people’s health 2016 – 2021 [#Ungdomshelse – regjeringens strategi for ungdomshelse 2016-2021] sets out a number of goals and measures for promoting healthy lifestyles, including in the areas of alcohol and drugs, tobacco, physical activity and nutrition, and sexual health.
Recent national strategies and plans in the area of public health support the implementation of the youth health strategy:
The Government's National Action Plan for a Better Diet (2017-2021) [Nasjonal handlingsplan for bedre kosthold (2017-2021) – Sunt kosthold, måltidsglede og god helse for alle!] will help to achieve the youth health strategy goals related to nutrition through:
Promoting healthy meals and meal arrangements in schools
Help ensure that schools adhere to the national guidelines on nutrition and meals in schools
Engage young people through various activities for healthy and sustainable diets
White Paper No. 19 (2018-2019) on Public Health [Folkehelsemeldinga: Gode liv i et trygt samfunn], which includes a new national tobacco strategy for 2019-2021, supplements the youth health strategy’s focus on creating a tobacco-free youth generation, and with a particular goal on preventing an increase in the use of snus (snuff) among young people.
The National Plan to strengthen efforts in drug prevention and rehabilitation (2016-2020) [Prop. 15 S (2015-2016) Opptrappingsplanen for rusfeltet (2016–2020)] includes measures reiterated as goals in the youth health strategy such as increasing knowledge and skills on drug and addiction problems in all sectors and strengthen and increase the use of routines related to the detection and mapping of drug problems in municipalities and in somatic hospital wards.
One of the measures set out in the youth health strategy is the development of the Government’s Sexual Health Strategy “Talk about it! (2017 – 2020)” [Snakk om det! Strategi for seksuell helse (2017 – 2020)], which includes activities for increasing young people’s knowledge and skills to safeguard their own sexual health.
The Directorate of Health has developed national guidelines on nutrition and meals in schools with specific recommendations for young people in secondary education. The guidelines include information about the evidence base for the recommendations and practical information about how the recommendations can be implemented.
The Directorate of Health has also developed a digital tobacco prevention education program with five lessons at each stage of secondary school. The goal is for students to learn how to make independent choices and set boundaries.
The national programme for public health [Folkeheseprogrammet] run by the Directorate of Health aims to strengthen mental health and substance abuse prevention as part of the municipalities’ public health work, as well as raising the municipalities' capacity in developing, implementing and evaluating knowledge-based measures. The programme has a focus on children and youth. Counties apply for grants to implement projects in the municipalities. In 2017, grants totalling NOK 42.1 million were awarded to six of the counties that applied. An additional NOK 28.4 million were awarded to five new county municipalities in 2018. A baseline survey was conducted in the initial stages of the programme to establish a basis for a mid-term and a final evaluation.
In upper secondary school health education is an integral part of physical education and sports which is incorporated into the national curricula. The official description of the subject can be accessed (in English and Norwegian) through the website of the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training: Curriculum for Physical education (KRO1-04) [Læreplan i kroppsøving (KRO1-04)]. Physical education is meant to ‘help pupils acquire knowledge about exercise and training, lifestyle and health, and motivate them to have an active life and continue physical training into adulthood.’ (Directorate for Teaching and Training, KRO01-04/purpose). Physical education is a common core subject for all the education programmes in upper secondary education.
Sex education and personal relationships education usually include biological as well as emotional aspects of sexuality such as knowledge of sexual health and responsible sexual behaviour, awareness of different sexual orientations, reproduction, contraception, pregnancy and birth (EACEA/Eurydice, 2010).
Sex education is primarily given in primary and lower secondary school. Sex education is not taught as a separate subject, but as a part of science, philosophy and ethics, and social science.
Sex education is described as a part of the national curriculum descriptions of the above-mentioned subjects (The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training – National Curriculum).
Norway does not have any top-level guidelines, programmes, projects or initiatives facilitating or relying on peer-to-peer education as a form of non-formal or informal learning to health education/healthy lifestyles.
Norway does not have an official policy or legal framework that instruct top-level authorities to support the collaboration and the formation of partnerships between schools, youth workers and health professionals in the promotion of youth health.
Raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and on factors affecting the health and well-being of young people
The public authorities responsible for disseminating information about youth health and related areas are the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir).
ung.no , run by the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir) is a public website on which young people can receive information about health and related areas. #ikkegreit [#not_OK] is an ongoing campaign initiated in February 2017 targeting young people between the ages of 15 and 23 on domestic violence, ‘date rape’, sexual assault, and unsolicited sharing of private content online. A dedicated website is hosted on ung.no which includes information about services that offer help and support.
Local youth health stations and school health services are statutory services provided by the municipalities, designed to safeguard physical and mental health and provide health-promoting and preventative services for children and young people. The Directorate of Health has developed national guidelines and recommendations for youth health stations and school health services which includes youth information and counselling.