Primary prevention

Addressing the determinants of health and diabetes risk factors

The prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity is rising around the world. This is creating a double burden for the many low- and middle-income countries that now face both under- and over-nutrition in their populations. These are major contributors to the diabetes epidemic. 

It is now widely recognised that, in addition to building individual skills, countries need to focus on policy and regulatory actions that prevent and protect individuals from exposure to NCD risks. This is crucial in addressing health inequalities as the most vulnerable groups tend to be the least resilient to the detrimental influence of obesogenic environments. Opportunities to prevent and control NCDs occur at multiple stages of life; interventions in early life often offer the best chance for primary prevention.

The WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs provides Best Buys related to nutrition and physical activity. The WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity provides a list of recommended interventions to address obesogenic environments. 

Our approach is to promote healthy environments with a focus on childhood, adolescence, and a woman’s reproductive years – periods representing key ‘windows of opportunity’ for prevention of NCDs.

WDF therefore prioritises interventions targeting pregnant women and children (0-18 years old) using both school and health facility settings as entry points.

WDF supports interventions that focus on

•    Providing tools to adopt a healthier lifestyle, including health literacy skills
•    Promoting healthy diets and physical activity
•    Advocating for policy & structural changes leading to a less obesogenic environment
•    Implementing health promoting interventions during pre- and post-partum stages

Providing health-related information to citizens is essential but not enough to lead to behaviour change. We encourage our partners to look beyond awareness raising activities and en-sure the participation of beneficiaries in defining the most context-relevant interventions. 

Interventions should start by analysing the drivers and barriers for behaviour change in target populations. We also encourage our partners to carefully consider the theory of change they apply and how they intend to measure the outcome of their interventions.

WDF's Primary Prevention work is guided by the principles of Integrated Care, Life-Course Approach, and Universal Health Coverage.