There is strong evidence that to reduce our risk of cancer, we need to move often, take at least 30 minutes of moderate to brisk exercise on five days of the week, stay within the healthy weight range, eat more wholegrain, fruit and vegetables, and limit processed meats and alcohol.1

Meetings are a regular part of the lives of people who talk about health planning, policy and active living. Hours are spent in sedentary behaviour, keeping still and listening hard. There is often not much chance to take a brisk walk (physical activity), stand up and stretch, or simply use a muscle or two, even though we recommend more movement as an important part of public health.  Sometimes we complain about a long (>5 minutes) walk to the car park or the distance from the bus stop. Walking and cycling are often considered part of leisure activities (at weekend) and not a working day consideration.

Then we top our inactivity with ultra processed high calorie foods. Regular choices include meaty things wrapped in pastry, deep fried creations (e.g. haggis balls!) followed by large creamy slices of something. Occasionally a vegetable garnish is observed (or a few slices of something from a plant in a sandwich). We write home if wholegrain foods are in abundance, and sometimes pretend that chunks of cheese don’t really contain saturated fat, and that crisps must surely be part of a healthy diet. Finally we drink what ever is provided to quench our thirst, whether orange or black. Simple lunches such as wholegrain filled rolls served with salad, followed by fruit and yoghurt with a supply of fresh drinking water seem to be rare.

Healthy meetings score card final-1 Healthy meetings score card final-2

The SCPN thinks that 2015 is going to be different…We think we can sow some seeds of change, and help people to promote AND practice healthy behaviours in their working lives. We have developed a scorecard to assess meetings that last 4 hours plus lunch, which focuses on ten highlights that regular meeting attenders agree, represent important examples of good practice for healthy meetings. They do not include every aspect of a healthy diet or active living but provide a brief check-list to help support meeting organisers.

However, whilst  having a scorecard is a great way to start a meaningful conversation, we want to do more than this and seek active feedback.

In part, the scorecard is designed to make us open our eyes to what our meetings are actually like, but also to provide an opportunity to feedback to organisers, in areas in which they might do better. At the SCPN, we are particularly keen to share good practice, and need examples of how the actions were achieved. If we have caterers saying they cannot serve vegetables, we need to be able to give real practical examples of where they have been served. If they say no low calorie desserts can be found, we need to provide guidance and examples. If chairpersons say they cannot give up a minute of time for stretching, we need to quote examples where this has been successfully achieved.

WE are looking for supporters in any part of the world to support to the development of healthy meetings by

  • discussing the check-list with meetings’ chairpersons
  • providing feedback (the scorecard) to the organiser of meetings
  • sharing your experiences of good practice with the SCPN
  • helping us to promote, disseminate and reward examples of good practice

We are especially interested in scores, comments and photos (with permission) of good practice. – please share, please tell, please help us to change our everyday working lives.

More information is available on our website, including the background, how we developed the card, what to do with it (including a draft letter for chairpersons), an online scorecard, and the scorecard in PDF format, that can be scored electronically – no printing needed. There is also a short Youtube video that provides information on how to use the card.

If you would like to become a supporter or Ambassador for this initiative please contact us at

– Annie

Professor Annie S Anderson BSc PhD RD FRCP (Edin)


1 WCRF International Link between lifestyle & cancer risk 19th February 2015