PEN symposium at the European Public Health Conference

The Policy Evaluation Network (PEN) will stage a pre-conference symposium at the 15th European Public Health Conference (EUPHA): "Evaluating implementation of public policy for the promotion of physical activity and healthy nutrition: Why, how and what should this involve."



Wednesday 9 November, 9:00 – 12:30 CET (followed by network lunch)


Urban cities host over half the world’s population and their growth is projected to increase in the foreseeable future. Within these urbanised food and physical activity (PA) systems, promoting health enhancing behaviours and sustainability is challenging. Indeed, the UN Sustainable Development Goals blueprint highlights the need to ‘make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’. A need to move beyond the individual behaviour change to broader policy or systems-based approaches is needed. For Governments, the concept of a ‘best buy’ in public health interventions is associated with evidence of effectiveness, rationale for need and applicability to the target population. Yet, in public sector policy the concept of a ‘best buy’ is far from clear. Indeed, the ‘best buy’ indicators (from a scientific perspective) may not be politically relevant (due to context) and/or difficult to obtain.

The aim of this pre-conference is to share the learnings from the Policy Evaluation Network on examining public policy development, implementation and evaluation in food and PA and present strategies for improved policy evaluation. This pre-conference will explore the tensions that exist in identifying policy ‘best buys’, the impact of different stakeholder perspectives’ on agreeing ‘best buys’, and the associated issues of implementation and monitoring for accountability at city and national levels.

To begin the pre-conference our experts will give presentations from the EU Policy Evaluation Network (, INFORMAS ( and others designed to advance our understanding of the potential for policy intervention to change environments and behaviour. Next, we will present strategies by which we can obtain better data for policy evaluation and how we can provide actionable knowledge for policy makers to create healthier physical activity and food environments. We will focus on policies that are good for the planet, publicly acceptable and good for the economy. The team of experts will provide tailored feedback to the small groups as their ideas are flourishing, and drawing on examples from physical activity and food policy, participants:

  • Explore recent rapid developments in physical activity national and local policy development, and learn from the successes and challenges of the globally relevant food policy examples;
  • Explore the tensions that exist in developing and implementing physical activity/Food policy.
  • Review indicators and methods for monitoring implementation of policy and discuss the challenges in obtaining the data needed for outcome evaluation.
  • Participants will discuss opportunities to influence local food and physical activity policy to follow best practice in developing a healthy, sustainable, and resilient system which underpins national and international policies.


09:00 a.m. - Welcome/introduction (Dr. Marleen Bekker, Netherlands/ Prof. Catherine Woods, Ireland / Prof. Joanna ?ukowska, Poland)

09.15 a.m. – Aims and Achievements of the European Policy Evaluation Network (Prof. Wolfgang Ahrens, Germany)

09:30 a.m. – Policies Influencing Food Environments in EU Member States – Assessment by the Food Environment Policy Index (EPI) (Dr. Janas Harrington, Ireland / Dr. Maartje Poelman, The Netherlands)

09.50 a.m. – Benchmarking of Policies and Infrastructure Support for Creating Physically Active Environments – Development and Implementation of a Novel Physical Activity EPI (Prof. Catherine Woods, Ireland / Dr. Sarah Forberger, Germany)

10:10 a.m. – Interactive Session: Discussing Barriers and Facilitators to Conducting Both Food and Physical Activity EPIs (Expanding the number of countries involved, tool dissemination, potential training etc.)

11:00 a.m. – Coffee Break (15 Min)

11:15 a.m. – Better Data to Assess Policy Impact – Obtaining Harmonized Indicators of Diet- and Physical Activity-Behaviours and their Determinants by Pan-European Surveillance (Dr. Antje Hebestreit, Germany / Prof. Wolfgang Ahrens, Germany; Presentation followed by a plenary discussion on barriers and facilitators for including SIMPLE indicators into national surveillance systems)

12:00 p.m.-– Plenary Discussion and Conclusion (Dr. Marleen Bekker / Prof. Joanna ?ukowska, Poland / Prof. Wolfgang Ahrens; Feedback from the interactive sessions, next steps and future directions)

12:30 p.m. – Network Lunch (60 Min)


The registration fee is € 75 which includes networking lunch and refreshments. For more information and the registration, follow this link.