7.4 Healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition
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- The National Programme for Nutrition and Health Enhancing Physical Activity (HEPA) 2015–2025 (Nacionalni program o prehrani in telesni dejavnosti za zdravje 2015–2025)
The programme not only encompasses a strategy for HEPA but also for nutrition. Regarding nutrition, the programme aims to address:
- ensuring healthful eating habits in accordance with guidelines and recommendations for different age groups (with special emphasis placed on organised school and student food; see chapter 5.1.1. and 5.1.2),
- ensuring access to healthful eating choices for socially and economically disadvantaged groups,
- raising consumer awareness,
- providing information and raising general awareness, including through public health campaigns.
- Rules on carrying out preventive healthcare at the primary level (Pravilnik za izvajanje preventivnega zdravstvenega varstva na primarni ravni)
Introduced back in 1998, these rules aim to address following topics:
- reducing the risk of diseases related to reproduction, as well as addressing unplanned and unwanted pregnancies,
- supporting early detection of cancer causing premature disease, disability and mortality,
- ensuring the enforcement of reproductive rights and promotion of reproductive health.
On the basis of the rules, health education for children and adolescents (those who attend school) is carried out (Vzgoja za otroke in mladostnike (šolarje)) by the National Institute of Public Health. The programme is carried out annually.
The National Programme for Youth 2013–2022 (Resolucija o Nacionalnem programu za mladino 2013-2022) anticipates several priority measures and their indicators.
Objective: Promoting regular physical activity, balanced nutrition and maintenance of the recommended body weight among young people (15–29 years)
- providing systematic conditions for balanced nutrition for young people aged 15–29. Indicators: the share of young people eating the recommended quantities of fruit and vegetables; the share of young people enjoying sweet drinks and sweets; the proportion of young people regularly enjoying breakfast; the share of young people regularly eating organic food.
- providing systemic conditions for monitoring and taking action with regard to overweight or obese young people aged 15–29. Indicator: share of overweight and obese youth.
Objective:Prevention of smoking and first smoking attempts, risky and harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs; ensuring healthy and safe youth entertainment; and managing violence related to sports, as well as vandalism
- providing systemic conditions for reducing risky and harmful use of alcohol. Indicators: share of young people who do not drink alcoholic beverages by gender; proportion of young people who do not drink alcoholic beverages regularly by gender; proportion of young people who do not drink risky or harmful amounts.
- providing systematic conditions for encouraging the cessation of smoking by young people. Indicators: the proportion of young people who do not smoke and the proportion of young people who quit smoking by gender.
- reducing demand for illicit drugs and preventing the supply of illicit drugs. Indicator: the proportion of young drug users by gender.
- providing systematic conditions for the healthy and safe entertainment of young people and managing violence related to public events and sports, as well as vandalism. Indicators: establishment of business conditions for private entities that provide healthy and safe entertainment for young people and number of youth vandalism offenses.
Objective:Strengthening care for the sexual and reproductive health of young people and family planning
- providing systematic conditions for improving the sexual and reproductive health of young people. Indicator: incidence of young people with sexually transmitted infections by gender.
1. ‘For Youth Health’ (Za zdravje mladih)
This is an informal network that connects main actors in the youth sector and equips them with information, materials, guidelines, trainings/education in the field of health and healthy lifestyle of children and youth.
The network was established through the project starting on 1 February 2015 (concluding on 31 October 2016) and was financed by the EEA/Norway grants providing co-financing in the amount of 351.076,35 (75,8%) EUR and the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy providing co-financing in the amount of 61.954,65 (13,4%) EUR. The total budget of the project amounted to 463.031.00 EUR. The project was led by the Slovenian Catholic Girl Guides and Boy Scouts Association (Skavti) and the Youth Network No Excuse Slovenia (Mladinska zveza Brez izgovora Slovenija), with the collaboration of the following:
- Scouts Association of Slovenia (Taborniki),
- National Youth Council of Slovenia (Mladinski svet Slovenije),
- National Public Health Institute, and
- Slovenian National Radio and Television (RTV Slovenija – Infodrom).
The aim of the project was to address following topics and aims:
- development of evidence-based prevention initiatives for the growing Slovenian youth sector,
- work towards a healthier lifestyle for Slovenian children and adolescents aged 12 to 19,
- additionally, work with their parents, youth workers and youth leaders who have a direct impact on young people’s health.
Currently the key financer of the network is Ministry of Health. The network regularly prepares different trainings and other projects in its field, including current Open call for local programmes in the project For Youth Health 2.0 (Razpis za lokalne programe v okviru projekta Za zdravje mladih 2.0).
2. Wind in the Hair (Veter v laseh)
The aims are promoting a healthy lifestyle and preventing risky behaviour and substance usage. Sports social events aim to include those who are less active in sport, while at the same time raise the awareness of young people about the positive effects of a healthy and active lifestyle and the negative consequences of addictions (such as drugs and alcohol). It is annually carried out by the Sport Union of Slovenia (Športna Unija Slovenije). It is funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport; the Foundation of Sport (Fundacija za šport); and the Ministry of Health.
3. Model ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ (Model Zdrav življenjski slog)
The aims are promoting a healthy lifestyle and healthful eating and nutrition, as well as preventing risky behaviour and substance usage. The intention is to integrate the contents of a healthy lifestyle into the school space on various levels – from curricular to extracurricular activities – with the aims of involving pedagogic workers, parents and health workers and ensuring that every Slovenian child receives health-related content and has a related lifestyle during his or her schooling. The model was integrated into all basic schools in Slovenia. It does not target specific groups within youth. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport funded the model.
4. ‘Health in Kindergarten’ (Zdravje v vrtcu)
This is a programme that was developed by the former Institute for Health Care Ljubljana in 2006 and is nowadays implemented by the National Institute for Public Health in collaboration with kindergartens all over the state. The aim of the programme is to build capacity of kindergartens to create environment that place well-being and health as important values and strive to create conditions for well-being and health and strengthen individual’s ability to maintain and improve health throughout life.
5. Actively to School’ (Aktivno v šolo)
This is an ongoing programme coordinated by the Institute for spatial policies (Inštitut za politike prostora) and co-financed by the Ministry of Health. It is a continuation and upgrade of Sustainable Mobility at School (Trajnostna mobilnost v šoli) project that lasted 2016 and 2017 and ‘Healthy Pupil’ Programme (Program Zdrav šolar) that lasted in 2015 and 2016. The aim of the project is supporting schools and municipalities in promoting active mobility to school.
6. ‘This is me’ (To sem jaz)
National program for mental health is supporting on-line counselling office where young people can ask experts about mental health issues or find some typical answers on their questions.
7. Good Apetite (Dober tek, student!)
The program's fundamental purpose is to establish better conditions for a more balanced diet for students and to increase student's awareness to choose a healthier offer from providers within the system of subsidized student nutrition.
Many programs that address the above goals are co-financed by multi-year public tenders in the field of public health through the activities of non-governmental and other organizations in the area of public health and are available on the website: https://www.gov.si/teme/programi-za-krepitev-zdravja/.
At the upper secondary level, the health education and healthy lifestyles lessons are held as part of compulsory optional content (obvezne izbirne vsebine). The recommended duration is 15 hours in a single sitting. Topics covered are the following:
- concepts of health (medical, philosophical, cultural, psychological, etc., as well as intercultural differences),
- youth and health (physical, mental and social development from birth to death, as well as relationships with the body and gender differences),
- lifestyles, life conditions and culture (balanced diet; physical activity; importance of the environment for health; responsible attitude towards smoking, alcohol and drugs; sexuality and interpersonal relations; family planning; pregnancy and childbirth; sexual abuse, harassment and pornography; sexually transmitted diseases and prevention; and sexual orientation),
- health situation in Slovenia (life expectancy, fertility, mortality and major health problems, infectious diseases, chronic diseases, mental disorders, traumatism and health promotion and health education),
- healthcare (rights and obligations relating to health; health and accessibility; healing; presentation of, ways of using, and accessibility to information on when and where it is possible to access services and programmes).
Sex education and personal relationships education
Slovenia does not have a specific sex education policy in basic schools and at later stages of education. The National Education Institute Slovenia states that the content set of healthy and safe sexuality is recorded in the programme of elementary and secondary school work. The programme has been prepared by a team of experts and is designed to provide recommendations for schools’ overall orientation to health as a value. Content assemblies are defined with goals, content and recommended literature for teachers and pupils, but each individual teacher decides whether to teach the proposed programme.
Sex education and personal relationships education is part of the compulsory optional content (for more information, see above, ‘Health education, third indent, life styles, life conditions and culture’).
Graduate nurses are continually involved (example) in the sexual education of children during preventive examinations, namely systematic examinations in elementary school, which are carried out in the 1st, 3rd, 6th and 8th grades of the basic school, as well as in the 1st and 3rd years of high school.
Since 2012, the national youth organisation No Excuse Slovenia (Brez izgovora Slovenija) has conducted peer-to-peer education programmes on the topic of reproductive health. The activities were aimed especially at young people who, due to the influence of various substances, enter into risky sexual relations
Also since 2012, the Association Happy Kitchen (Društvo Vesela kuhinja) provides education programmes for children and adolescents on processes in culinary and self-supply processes. Schools all around the state are involved in their project Kitchen and stuff (Kuhna pa to) where children cook healthy traditional meals for their peers. The project is ongoing and co-financed by the Ministry of Health. In September, 2018, the European Commission - DG SANTE identified the project as the Best of 10 Practices in Europe in the field of healthy and a sustainable lifestyle in relation to food. The project is part of the presentation strategy of Slovenia for the Gastronomic Region of Europe 2021.
In 2017, the Institute of Republic of Slovenia for Sport Planica (Zavod za šport RS Planica) began with the implementation of the project ‘Youth for Youth’ (Mladi za mlade). The aim of the project is providing free sport activities for students of secondary vocational schools, vocational schools and students professionally guided by the young sport graduates (under the age of 29) and thus also equip young sport graduates with competences in order to enhance chances for their (long-term) employability. The project will end in 2021 and is co-funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.
There is no top-level initiative for collaboration and the formation of partnerships among schools, youth workers and health professionals promoting youth health. However, the Youth Association No Excuse Slovenia (Mladinska zveza Brez izgovorov Slovenija) is active in the field of promoting health, focusing on following fields:
- illicit drugs,
- eating disorders,
- mental health.
Efforts so far have been upgraded through three pilot programmes with interventions:
- My Campaign (Moja kampanja), aiming to present a realistic and unattractive picture of tobacco and smash smoking myths that are prevalent among young people.
- Martin Krpan programme, providing an integrated approach to preventing the development of tobacco and alcohol addiction, involving both young people and their teachers and parents.
- Project Thank You (Hvala), focusing on the prevention of peer violence.
No Excuse offers various workshops and lectures on the above-mentioned topics. Whether or not the collaboration comes to fruition depends on the agreement between the association and the respective school that is included in the annual work plan for the upcoming school year. Youth Association Without Excuse Slovenia is a non-governmental non-profit organization, financed by public sources and by donations of individuals.
Raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and on factors affecting the health and well-being of young people
Information providers/counselling structures:
The National Programme for Youth 2013–2022 (Resolucija o Nacionalnem programu za mladino 2013–2022) foresees several priority measures and their indicators:
Objective:Reducing the impact of a changing environment on the health of young people
- raising awareness among young people and training them to carry out healthy lifestyle activities to reduce environmental health risk factors. Indicator: the number of young people aware of the health risks from exposure to environmental risk factors.
The National Institute of Public Health is the main provider of valuable and useful information regarding health in general and specifically on issues of youth health. The Institute is a publicly funded institution that implements several programmes and counselling:
- Health Education for Children and Youth (Vzgoja za zdravje za otroke in mladostnike)
The goal is to inform and motivate children and youth to take care of their health. Through various programmes, they are enabled to acquire knowledge and formulate attitudes and behaviours for a healthy lifestyle.
- Slovenian Network of Healthy Schools (Slovenska mreža zdravih šol)
The concept is to have a network of schools promoting health. They respond to the heath problems of children and youth.
- School Pot (Šolski lonec)
Includes a modern information tool that can be used by professionals in educational institutions and the general public in their everyday work and healthcare.
The youth network No Excuse Slovenia (Brez izgovora Slovenija) is one of the rare NGOs that conducts peer-to-peer awareness-raising campaigns on the topics of tobacco, alcohol, nutrition and reproductive health.
No specific contact point exists for youth to access and receive information on having a healthy lifestyle.
Youth-targeted information campaigns
- The Sport Institute of Republic of Slovenia Planica (Zavod RS za šport Planica) carries out the campaign Healthy Lifestyle 2015–2018 (Zdrav življenjski slog 2015–2018). The campaign seeks to promote a healthy lifestyle among Slovenian children and youth while they attend school. It is implemented through daily, regular and quality physical education. The timeframe is 2015–2018.
- The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport carries out the campaign Traditional Slovenian Breakfast (Tradicionalni slovenski zajtrk) with support of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food. The aim of campaign is to promote healthy nutrition, support local production and promote health-enhancing physical activity. The project is carried out annually.
- The Agency for Agricultural Markets and Rural Development (Agencija RS za kmetijske trge in razvoj podeželja) carries out the measure School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (Shema šolskega sadja in zelenjave). The aim of this measure is to stop the trend of reduced fruit and vegetable consumption and at the same time limit the rise in children’s excessive body weight and obesity.
- The National Institute of Public Health carries out the programme Safe with the Sun (Varno s soncem). Through this preventive programme, attention is drawn to the importance of proper protection against the harmful effects of sunshine. It is a longstanding project.
- The National Institute of Public Health carries out the professional monitoring of compliance of school meals with professional guidelines (Strokovno spremljanje skladnosti šolske prehrane s strokovnimi usmeritvami). The professional monitoring of school nutrition through professional guidance and counselling for educational institutions in the field of healthful and balanced school nutrition is a continuous task.
- The project ‘Let's Enjoy Health’: To reduce the obesity of children and youth (Projekt ‘Uživajmo v zdravju’: Za zmanjšanje debelosti otrok in mladostnikov) is a coherent project intended to promote healthy lifestyles, health-enhancing physical activity and healthful nutrition. The project is carried out by the National Education Institute Slovenia with support of the National Institute of Public Health. The project comprises various approaches, such as the development of intervention programmes, models and tools for integrated treatment and prevention of obesity among children and youth. The purpose is to improve the functioning of the existing system, structures and interdepartmental and interdisciplinary cooperation in support of health.
- The National Institute of Public Health offers Youth on Mental Health (Mladostniki o duševnem zdravju), a publication with the aim of promoting mental health among children and youth. Detailed information is available in section 7.5 Mental health.
- The Ministry of Health implements the action Dance 0,0 – Drive 0,0 (Pleši 0,0 – Furam 0,0), which is supported by the National Institute of Public Health. The aim of the action is to prevent young people from drinking alcohol and driving under the influence.
- The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities implemented a campaign on preventing violence against women: ‘Violence is #pointless’ (Nasilje je #čistmim). This public and media campaign aimed at raising awareness of violence against women was introduced in the fall of 2015 and lasted for a couple of months.