The EPODE International Network (EIN), the world’s largest obesity prevention network, recently launched an innovative project to help tackle childhood obesity in Europe, with support from The Coca-Cola Foundation. The EIN announced the OPEN project in May at the start of the three-day European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Sofia, Bulgaria. 


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One in three 11-year-olds in Europe is overweight or obese. With the help of a $1 million grant from The Coca-ColaFoundation, the OPEN project will help 11 community-based initiatives step up their efforts to reduce childhood obesity over the next three years. The ambitious project aims to reach 3.9 million people across 16 countries in Europe – including 975,000 children – to help achieve and sustain an active, healthy lifestyle. 

The EPODE International Network (EIN), is an internationally recognized NGO with a proven track record of childhood obesity prevention through local community projects. The Coca-Cola Company became the first founding partner of EIN in 2011 to spread organization's global mission to reduce childhood obesity and its associated health risks through a range of initiatives including cooking classes and gardening programs. 


James Quincey

James Quincey, president of The Coca-Cola Company’s Europe Group, says, “We are delighted to be supporting the work of the OPEN project in helping millions of Europeans to lead more healthy and active lives. The EPODE International Network has shown over time that their approach to reduce childhood obesity rates works. The OPEN project is an important next step in this pioneering work to bring together communities, government and businesses in the common cause to fight obesity. I believe support through this partnership will make a significant difference.”  

The EPODE model demonstrates a practical application addressing both sides of the energy balance equation, tackling nutrition and activity in a coordinated way. It uses a science-based approach, endorsed by international bodies around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), European Commission and health and nutrition experts. It also involves stakeholders who can influence family settings, including the private sector. As a result, childhood obesity has been reduced by 10 percent in pilot towns in France and 22 percent in pilot towns in Belgium.

Jean-Michel Borys, EPODE International Network (EIN) European Network Director and General Secretary, said, “At EIN, we believe that the most promising way to tackle childhood obesity is via the community approach, mobilizing all stakeholders, from the public to the private sphere, from political representatives to actors on the ground. That’s why, for the last 20 years, we’ve focused our efforts on how we can bring all sectors together to create and deliver local programs that will make a genuine difference to families taking part. We’re delighted to be able to support the OPEN project, helping hundreds of thousands more children to lead a healthy, active lifestyle by 2016.”

Over the next three years, the OPEN project will work with programs and initiatives based in Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, France, Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.  

“The EPODE partnership forms part of a wide range of actions our company is taking to promote energy balance,” says Wouter Vermeulen, Coca-Cola Europe PAC Director, Energy Balance. “Working together with EIN is a strategic and long-term partnership and is a key proof point within our broader health and wellness strategy. We want to help build awareness for this methodology that has proven results in reducing childhood obesity and to expose more stakeholders to this successful approach. And we want to help EIN in expanding its reach across in Europe by setting up new programs and growing existing initiatives.” 

What is EPODE?

The EPODE International Network (EIN) is the world’s largest obesity prevention network, with over 30 members in 25 countries. To date the EIN is active in 13 countries in Europe. The EPODE model aims to prevent childhood obesity by delivering local programs that create everyday ways for children to enjoy healthy eating and active play. It is based on a positive approach with no stigmatization of food or drink as well as no stigmatisation of cultures, socio-economic groups and body image. EPODE promotes a balanced and diversified diet, encourages children and families to be more active and to exercise on a regular basis.
The EPODE model tackles the complex causes of obesity in four ways: through public-private partnerships, political commitment and support, social marketing techniques and evaluation. 

Its delivery is adapted to suit each community’s needs. In each country or region, EPODE promotes the involvement of multi-level and multiple stakeholders, including ministries, health groups, NGOs and private partners. The local coordinator of the EPODE program works with all members of the community, to implement initiatives which benefit the community at large.

Fast Facts

  • The EPODE methodology has helped reduce childhood obesity by 10 percent in pilot towns in France, and 22 percent in pilot towns in Belgium.
  • Over the next three years, The Coca-Cola Foundation will invest to strengthen 11 community-based programmes, expanding the EIN’s reach to 16 countries.
  • The latest grant will help bring a healthy balanced lifestyle to 3.9 million people across Europe by 2016.
  • The OPEN project includes the following initiatives in Belgium (Viasano), France (CCFL), Romania (SETS), The Netherlands (JOGG), Greece (PAIDEIATROFI), Spain (ALE – Health Promotion Madrid), Portugal (MUNSI),  Slovakia (Sporttube), Poland (Keep Fit!), Malta (Health Promotion and Prevention Directorate), IDEFICS (eight towns in eight European Countries)