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.