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New Initiative Targets Youth Weight Management in Finland

In response to the rising prevalence of youth obesity in Finland, where more than one in five young people are overweight, a new initiative is being launched to address the concern. The situation is exacerbated by increased sedentary behavior, a trend that has escalated further during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Obesity among the youth poses a significant public health challenge, often persisting into adulthood with known links to both physical and psychosocial adversities. Traditionally, efforts to reduce youth obesity have focused on advice related to weight, exercise, and nutrition. However, behavioral therapeutic tools and other mental well-being-related methods have been less commonly used.

In an effort to modernize and broaden the approach to obesity treatment, methods based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are being integrated. This innovation is being introduced into the everyday school environment for young individuals.


The initiative aims to develop collaborative methods utilizing co-design principles to create:

  • A multidisciplinary action plan aimed at reducing youth obesity within collaborative areas.
  • Educational materials for professionals working with young people, incorporating behavioral therapeutic methods.
  • Testing the suitability of a weight management application, originally designed for adults, for use by underage youth as part of school health services.
  • The target audience for this initiative includes young individuals and professionals in the school environment such as health nurses, doctors, counselors, psychologists, physiotherapists, physical education or health education teachers, and school nurses involved in mental health work. Collaboration will also extend to other experts and parents.


As a result of the initiative, collaborative areas will have access to a tailored multidisciplinary action plan and an electronic educational resource that incorporates behavioral therapeutic methods. The educational material is designed for professionals working with young people, offering a comprehensive description of the action plan and a toolkit for working with overweight youth.

This initiative aims to facilitate the easy implementation of the action plan and behavioral therapeutic tools through the educational material. Consequently, the collaboration among professionals in the region will increase, providing a more holistic perspective on the situation of overweight young individuals, considering the physical, psychological, and social dimensions. The goal is to reduce youth obesity using evidence-based methods.

The outputs of the initiative will also be available for use by regions beyond the collaborative areas after the conclusion of the project.

During 2024, the operating model and related teaching material will finally be published, when the project’s last operational year comes to an end.

Find out more about the project here