The MOVING index outlines the status of physical activity policy in 30 European countries, and can be used by stakeholders to promote ways that make it easy to be physically active.
Government action to create environments where people find it easy to be physically active is essential for the prevention of overweight and obesity and related non-communicable diseases, including cancer.
Our physical activity policy index gives an at-a-glance assessment of how well countries in Europe are doing with regards to creating environments that enable people to be physically active. It was produced by rating and comparing countries based on the quality of their policy design.
The index outlines the status of national government policy actions in 30 European countries. It is a monitoring and advocacy tool that can be used by a range of stakeholders to advance national physical activity policies, and is one of a set of tools to monitor, benchmark and compare national government policies, known as MOVING.
The index is explained in our MOVING policy brief (pdf), which shows results for the 30 European countries. The brief can be used by policymakers, civil society and researchers to advance national physical activity policies.
Results are displayed for each area of the MOVING framework. Countries are placed in 5 categories from poor to excellent.
The index was developed to rate countries’ ‘policy status’ in the area of physical activity policy. It combines a large amount of information in a single assessment of the status of each policy area of the MOVING policy framework. Results are displayed by country and policy area of each framework, thus allowing comparisons between countries.
The policy index:
Gives a value for the strength of policy design in the 6 areas of the MOVING framework for each country.
Looks at the interplay between the policies under each policy area, rather than individual policies.
Produces an at-a-glance assessment of how well national governments are doing to enable physical activity.
Identifies gaps and opportunities for action in each country and across Europe.
How was the index produced?
The index was produced by benchmarking physical activity policy actions in 30 European against aspirational standards. The MOVING benchmarking tool was applied on complete datasets of physical activity policy actions taken by a national government. Such datasets were collected through a comprehensive scan methodology for 30 European countries and are available in our MOVING database.
How were the scores calculated?
The scores were calculated in 2 stages. First, each country was given a benchmark score of 0–100, depending on whether a policy existed and how well it was designed. Second, we calculated the policy area scores as an average of the benchmark scores within the respective policy area.
How many policy actions did you benchmark for each country?
The number varied as every country has implemented a different number of policies relating to physical activity. Only policies that fitted our inclusion criteria were benchmarked. > Read more about our inclusion criteria
see how well or poorly their country is doing in physical activity at national level.
learn what the policy status is in Europe and compare their country with other European countries.
identify weaknesses in the policy status that can inform advocacy efforts to improve the policy environments, either in their country, or across Europe.
Are the results up to date?
The results are reflective of the status of physical activity policy as of May 2023.
Can the index explain links between obesity rates and the physical activity policy landscape?
The index provides an overview of the status of policies at a certain time and would have to be repeated to assess if there are changes in policy and/or new policies available. It allows the exploration of relevant European and national policies (the benchmarking tool assesses the overall level of government action on physical activity). It cannot indicate causality between any observed trends in obesity rates and related behaviours across countries and policy action, but it can generate hypotheses to be explored with further robust studies.
What are the limitations of the index?
These results present a quality assessment of current action at national government level. As such, they cannot draw a causal link between the quality of policy design and any changes in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the absence of repeat benchmarking. Further, they do not consider extent of implementation, or any action taken by regional, provincial or local governments. When used in context, these findings need to be judged carefully against a situational assessment in each country. Some suggested questions to contextualise findings:
Are countries that have taken action across all areas of the MOVING framework doing so in response to a lack of enabling conditions for healthy behaviours?
Conversely, will countries with an existing enabling environment for healthy behaviours be likely to take less action?
Do findings that focused on national level actions miss action at provincial, regional or local levels?
How do you know the right elements of policy design are used to assess policies?
We reviewed the literature, followed by rigorous expert consultation, to develop the benchmarking tool. Any benchmarking tool has an element of subjectivity, but the process of putting together the tool drew heavily from existing evidence. Further, World Cancer Research Fund International and CO-CREATE researchers carried out the policy scan and assessments independently from national governments.
How did you ensure the reliability and validity of the index?
We shared the results with in-country government experts who verified the policy actions identified during the scan. Experts were given an opportunity to feed back on the results before publication. As no gold standards exist on benchmarking national physical activity policy, there is an opportunity in the future to cross-validate findings with other existing tools.
MOVING policy index webinar
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 774210. This content reflects only the authors’ views and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.