Scottish Cancer Prevention Network

Healthy Meetings

Ten important examples of good practice to help you organise healthier meetings and conferences.

We've developed a ten-part checklist for meetings lasting over four hours and including lunch. (Daily checklist coming soon). It doesn't include every aspect of a healthy diet or active living but does provide a brief checklist to help support meeting organisers.

Healthy Meetings Supporters

Become a Healthy Meetings Supporter, and you will be added to our Healthy Meetings email mailing list.

You will be joining a vast network of people, stretching from Shetland to Western Australia.

  • Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland
  • Our Minister for Health, Shona Robison MSP
  • Dr Aileen Keel, Director of the Innovative Health Delivery Programme (IHDP), and former acting CMO for Scotland
  • The Presidents of all three Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in Scotland
  • Dame Carol Black, Advisor on Work and Health for the Department of Health, England
  • MSPs from all parties
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Sir Andrew Cubie, Chair of the National Advisory and Advocacy Group for Healthy Working Lives
  • Leading NHS Staff, Academics and Private Sector Workers

We especially welcome NHS staff, Health Care Associations and professional groups, universities, meeting organisers, meeting attendees, and people who care about helping to change health behaviours. We also welcome supporters from anywhere across the UK, Europe and worldwide!

Please email scpn@cancerpreventionscotland.org.uk to let us know you want to support this work.

Further Information

Why should the SCPN care about our lifestyle?

In addition to smoking, scientists estimate that about a third (32%) of 13 of the most common cancers in the UK could be prevented through improved diet (including alcohol reduction), physical activity, and body weight. For example, it is estimated that 47% of colorectal cancer and 38% of breast cancer can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight (through active living and appropriate diet) could result in as much as 22,000 less cancer deaths per year in the UK.

How was the scorecard developed?

We aimed to develop something short (10 items), that could allow feedback to meeting organisers. The current scorecard does not include every aspect of a healthy diet, or active living but provides a brief checklist to help support meeting organisers.
 
SCPN members with expertise in physical activity and diet, undertook a round table exercise to identify key items that might be covered, agreeing that activity, inactivity, food and drinks should be the focus. We then sent these far and wide to experts for comment.
 
The comments flowed…(e.g. include avoidance of plastics, add in ten minute walks, make sure it is a “whole portion” of veggies etc). We then collated these comments, looking for areas of common agreement, and undertook a systematic content validation exercise of a modified score card, inviting regular meeting attendees and organisers, as well as experts to participate.
 
Respondents were asked to anonymously score each item on topic, wording and overall appropriateness. Once again, the comments flowed, with 135 individual comments guiding us on what might be acceptable or unacceptable. We then with further internal adjustments created the final scorecard available today.

Background

Meetings are a regular part of many people’s lives. Conferences, board meetings, committees, training days… they all mount up. Meetings often involve sitting for long periods of time (sedentary behaviour), with few opportunities for movement, standing or stretching. How often do we get the chance to grab a brisk walk (physical activity)? Travel directions inevitably start with car routes, with information on walking routes, cycle lanes (and bike racks) and public transport lost in small print (if provided at all).

At the SCPN, we organise an annual conference, and when evaluating conference venues, have requested menus and examined the food options available. The opportunity to exceed our necessary calorie intake is very apparent, with scores of high calorie options. Regular choices include deep fried items, pastries, dips, creamy and pastry-based desserts – worse still – the menus are often described as healthy, despite the inclusion of pies and sausage rolls (processed meats), and the sparsity of fibre rich foods such as vegetables. Wholegrain foods are often almost invisible and fruits may be for decoration. Drinks options are often coloured and sweetened, though we know that thirst is best quenched by water, and that the WHO recommends avoidance of sweet drinks. For those who don’t like liquid sweetness, there may be bowls of sweets in meeting rooms, and for the savoury snacker, crisps may well be lurking by the sandwiches.

The evidence is strong that to reduce our risk of cancer, we need to move often, take at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on five days of the week, stay within the healthy weight range (BMI <25kg/m2), eat more wholegrain, fruit and vegetables, and limit processed meats.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to these issues and focus on the agenda, the delegate’s lists and attendance. After all who has time to deal with these matters? Who has the skills to politely mention to meeting organisers, that things could be different or to give alternative examples of catering?

Things are going to be different…and we need your help!

We think we can sow some seeds of change, and help people to practice healthy behaviours in their working lives. Through the healthy meetings score card, we aim to:

  • help people experience healthier meetings to feel well and think smart.
  • help share good practice about healthier meetings
  • create demand for healthier catering and more active meetings
  • promote meetings organisers and venues who can support a healthy workforce

On the card, are ten observations which we would ask you to score: each observations scores one point, and in total, we aim to achieve 10/10.