Policy Evaluation Network - Public policies addressing health-related behaviours in Europe


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of global mortality, responsible for 39.5 million deaths in 2015, which equates to 70% of all deaths. Successful policy actions to address physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and sedentary behaviour have the potential to influence the health and well-being of an entire population. At the public policy level, the initiation, coordination and implementation of policies that enhance opportunities for whole populations to make healthier physical activity- and diet-related choices are necessary. Yet, no systematic research on the assessment or evaluation of policy interventions across Europe is currently being conducted. Consequently, no information on the merit, worth or utility of policy interventions is available and no guidance or recommendations on how to address this gap in our knowledge exists.

As part of the Joint Programming Initiative on a Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life (JPI HDHL,, 28 research institutes from seven European countries and New Zealand have combined their expertise to form a Policy Evaluation Network (PEN).

PEN’s vision is to provide Europe with tools to identify, evaluate and benchmark policies designed to directly or indirectly address physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and sedentary behaviour while accounting for existing health inequities. Using structured evaluation principles and methods, PEN will examine the content, implementation and impact of lifestyle policies across Europe and will build on existing knowledge from DEDIPAC (Determinants of Diet and Physical Activity, and the INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity/ non-communicable diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support, framework.

With seven inter-related work packages (WPs), PEN will provide an overview of the ‘best’ public policies most likely to sustainably reduce physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and sedentary behaviour. It will realise the first steps in a bespoke policy monitoring and surveillance system for Europe and refine our knowledge of appropriate research designs and methods for the quantification of policy impact. It will contribute to our understanding of how to achieve successful transnational policy implementation of these evidence-based or evidence-grounded policies in different cultural, demographic or socio-economic settings with particular focus on vulnerable groups.

PEN will provide recommendations on equity and diversity to ensure that policy actions are inclusive as opposed to exclusive, are relevant to the changing landscape of Europe and are culturally sensitive. Finally, PEN will provide three worked examples of policy in practice. Three case studies will illustrate how best to evaluate the implementation and impact of policy in order to yield the best results for a healthy diet for a healthy life for European citizens.

Funding period

Begin:   February 2019
End:   July 2022


  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Ahrens

Project management (international)

Dr Jeroen Lakerveld, Amsterdam UMC (Vumc), Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Prof Catherine Woods, University of Limerick (UL), Limerick, Ireland


  • Dr Olivier Allais (Alimentation et Sciences Sociales (INRA ALISS))
  • Prof Hermann Brenner (German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ))
  • Dr Peter Gelius (Friedrich‐Alexander University, Institute of Sport Science and Sport (FAU-ISS))
  • Dr Janas Harrington (University College Cork (CHDR))
  • Dr Carlijn Kamphuis (Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University (HUL))
  • Prof Thomas Kubiak (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU))
  • Dr Jeroen Lakerveld (Amsterdam UMC (Vumc))
  • Dr Michael Laxy (Helmholtz Zentrum München (T-HMGU))
  • Prof Nanna Lien (University of Oslo, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences (UiO-PHN))
  • Prof Aleksandra Luszczynska (SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities (SWPS))
  • Prof Mario Mazzocchi (University of Bologna (UNIBO))
  • Dr Joerg J. Meerpohl (Medical Center - University of Freiburg (CG-IEM))
  • Dr Gert Mensink (Robert Koch Institute (RKI))
  • Prof Daniele Moro (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC))
  • Dr Laurent Muller (Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory, French National Institute of Agricultural Research (GAEL-INRA))
  • Dr Celine Murrin (University College Dublin (UCD-PH))
  • Dr Eva Rehfuess (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (EBPH-LMU))
  • Dr Piotr Romaniuk (Medical University of Silesia in Katowice (SILVer))
  • Dr Gun Roos (Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet))
  • Prof Ingrid Steenhuis (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU-P&P))
  • Prof Juergen Steinacker (University of Ulm, Division of Sport and Rehabilitation Medicine (UULM))
  • Prof Karien Stronks (Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam (PHP-DP))
  • Prof Frank van Lenthe (Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam (SocialEpiEMCR))
  • Dr Stefanie Vandevijvere (University of Auckland (UOA))
  • Prof Katarzyna Wieczorowska-Tobis (Poznan University of Medical Sciences (PUMS))
  • Prof Catherine Woods (University of Limerick (UL))
  • Prof Joanna Zukowska (Gdansk University of Technlogy (GUT))


Project website