Diet and Physical Activity in Schools: Perspectives from the Implementation of the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

Vanessa Candeias, Timothy P. Armstrong, Godfrey C. Xuereb


Non-communicable diseases (NCD), such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths. Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are well-established risk factors for overweight and the major NCD.

In response to the rapid global growth of the NCD burden, the 2008 Action Plan on Prevention and Control of NCD and the 2004 Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health (DPAS) have been developed and endorsed as key international policy instruments.

As part of the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) to implement these resolutions, a framework describing the core elements for the development and implementation of a national school policy focused on diet and physical activity has been developed. This framework is included in the “DPAS implementation tool box”, and it aims to guide policy-makers in the development and implementation of policies that promote healthy eating and physical activity in the school setting through changes in environment, behaviour and education.

The article describes the key elements of the framework and details how this tool is integrated into other WHO activities to provide leadership, guidance, capacity building, evidence-based recommendations and advocacy for action to improve dietary practices and increase physical activity globally.

Key words: School policy; public health; education; health policy; nutrition; healthy eating; physical activity


School policy; Public Health; Education; Health Policy; Nutrition; Healthy Eating; Physical Activity