Effective communication

Change can only be initiated through effective communication. The core role of health communication is to bridge the gap between technical experts, policy-makers and the general public. The proof of effective communications is its capacity to create awareness, improve knowledge and induce long-term changes in individual and social behaviours --- in this case consumption of healthy diets and incorporating physical activity for health.

An effective health communication plan seeks to act on the opportunities at all stages of policy formulation and implementation, in order to positively influence public health. Sustained and well targeted communication will enable consumers to be better informed and make healthier choices. Informed consumers are better able to influence policy-makers; this was learned from work to limit the damage to health from tobacco use. Consumers can serve as advocates or may go on to lobby and influence their societies to bring about changes in supply and access to goods and services that support physical activity and nutritional goals.

The cost to the world of the current and projected epidemic of chronic disease related to diet and physical inactivity dwarfs all other health costs. If society can be mobilized to recognize those costs, policy-makers will eventually start confronting the issue and themselves become advocates of change. Experience shows that politicians can also be influenced by the positions taken by the United Nations agencies, and the messages that they promote. Medical networks have also been found to be effective advocates of change in the presence of a government that is responsive to the health needs of society. Consumer nongovernmental organizations and a wide variety of civil society organizations will also be critical in raising consumer consciousness and supporting the climate for constructive collaboration with the food industry and the private sector.

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