Improving public health and promoting physical activity are core tasks of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Physical inactivity is associated with chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, overweight and obesity. These conditons cause a large burden on the health care system and on health care costs. Physical inactivity is a global public health priority. RIVM is actively involved in this topic, both at national and international level.
RIVM assesses the health risks of physical inactivity, studies the impact and cost effectiveness of preventive measures and hosts a portal for health promotion and prevention that includes this topic. Also, RIVM is appointed by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to coordinate, at a national level, the information (e.g. how is data collected, prevalence and trends) regarding a set of key indicators describing sports and physical activity.
In international perspective, RIVM is member of the European expert group on Health Enhancing Physical Activity (XG-HEPA) and has been appointed as HEPA Focal Point. For the EU Workplan of Sport, period 2014 - 2017, the XG-HEPA will be working on two deliverables. The first is the preparation of recommendations to encourage physical education in schools, including motor skills in early childhood and to create valuable interactions with the sports sector, local authorities and the private sector. The second is the coordination of the implementation of the HEPA Council Recommendation.
As HEPA Focal Point, RIVM is the main contact for the European Commission for providing information and data corresponding to the indicators that were identified to cover the thematic areas of the European Physical Activity Guideline. RIVM is also listed as primary contact for the Global Observatory for Physical Activity and participates in the working group preparing the Dutch Physical Activity for Children Report Card based on the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHKGA) format. Furthermore, RIVM participates in the WHO HEPA Europe Network for which Wanda Wendel-Vos PhD, is a member of the steering committee.