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 conditions cause a large burden on the health care system and health care costs. Physical inactivity is a global public health priority. RIVM is actively involved in this topic, both at national and international level.

Physical Activity in the Netherlands

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 data is collected, prevalence and trends) regarding a set of key indicators describing sports and physical activity.

International collaboration

In the context of the European Union Council Recommendation on Promoting Health-Enhancing Physical Activity (HEPA) Across Sectors adopted in 2013, EU European Union (European Union) Member States have been requested to appoint national physical activity focal points to support the monitoring framework for HEPA policies and physical activity. For the Netherlands, RIVM was appointed  HEPA Focal Point.  As such, RIVM is the main contact for the European Commission, Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC), and the Sports Unit for providing information and data corresponding to the indicators identified to cover the thematic areas of the European Physical Activity Guideline.

RIVM is also listed as the primary contact for the Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA) and participates in the working group for 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 the chair of the steering committee.