Healthy (and Productive) Meetings

By Professor Annie S. Anderson BSc PhD RD (@Anniescotta and @theSCPN)

1The European Code Against Cancer (ECAC) sets out a range of lifestyle recommendations for reducing risk of developing cancer (also relevant to diabetes and heart disease). The evidence basis for this guidance (see obesity and body fatness, diet and cancer, and physical activity and cancer) provides interesting reading, but the challenge of how we translate these to our everyday working lives remains a challenge.

The Scottish Cancer Prevention Network (SCPN) healthy meetings scorecard was born out of sheer frustration after long days spent at meetings talking about nutrition and activity, whilst sitting/slumping and being offered pastries, deep fries and cake. Without a doubt the worst offerings were at meetings on NHS premises, but we are hopeful of SEEING great changes over the next few months as the scorecard and feedback system spreads through the Health Promoting Health Service initiative.

2The SCPN are looking for meetings to showcase – whether these are training, departmental or committee meetings, conferences or away days. So far we have showcased 3 meetings that have scored at least 9/10 and have met criteria for all domains (food, drink, encouraging activity and discouraging inactivity). It is notable that none of these have had sponsorship from pharma or food companies and the feedback from attendees has been very positive. Have a look at the showcase cards (ISBNPA [2015], UKSBM [2015], SCPN [2016]) and feel free to let us know if you want information on how to showcase (please ask before the event –



Here are some ideas that people have shared…

  • Provide the SCPN healthy meetings scorecards – dietitians have been really good at providing feedback
  • Giving a presentation? Put up the SCPN “Please Be Upstanding” slide (available as a presentation slide on our website)

4Organising a conference…

  • Save on conference bags, free pens and biscuits and provide pedometers or Frisbees.
  • Provide practical information on how to achieve 1000 steps at lunch time based on the venue opportunities (describe short walking routes with “things to see” or special/historic landmarks)
  • Provide clear signage for the stairs – use memorable phrases
    • “What goes down as you go up?” (answer blood pressure)
    • “Keep Fit and Take the Stairs”
    • “Find the stairs you want to climb today”
    • See other examples and illustrations by searching #AlwaysTakeTheStairs
  • Ever been at a standing AGM?

What about food? Healthy meetings can be…

  • cheap and simple (lentil soup, filled wholemeal roll and two fruit mix)
  • cheap and complex (baked potato, bean salad, tomato slices with fruit kebabs)
  • moderate price and different (ratatouille with wholegrain crumble, broccoli, stewed apple with yogurt)

5Big debate – over two thirds of Scottish adults are overweight, most adults gain weight year on year – do we need to promote a culture of offering biscuits with tea and coffee at worksite meetings? Personally, I think now that biscuits are so obviously outside the new EatWELL plate they shouldn’t be a regular part of daily food intake but I have noticed that some meetings organisers provide biscuits in slightly challenging ways

  • In the vending machine downstairs (if you really need them!)
  • Provision of wee biscuits, individually wrapped in a big jar at a place away from coffee (difficult to find, slow to access and fiddly to open – is it worth it?)
  • Provision of small amount of biscuits (who wants to be seen as greedy?)

Healthy Meetings is about promoting good practice and sharing the fun, tasty and exemplar – enjoy!


Dietitians Shaping the Future of Scotland’s health

If you’d like another opportunity to hear more about the work of dietitians why not come along to our innovation event ‘Dietitians shaping the future of Scotland’s health’. The event will be held on Wednesday 14th September in Dunfermline. Booking is now open with early bird rates for the first 50 BDA Members. Registration starts from £45. Follow the link for more information and booking:



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