Health and Social Work

Healthy Cities research

Central to this research department are the health and welfare of Zwolle’s young people. The main factors determining the healthiness of local children’s lifestyles are studied and influenced at the city and the neighbourhood level.

The department of Healthy Cities performs research on:

  • Stimulating and facilitating a healthy lifestyle and a healthy environment to improve health – among youth aged 0-19 years living in Zwolle.
  • Reducing health inequalities, resulting in an emphasis on deprived neighbourhoods.
  • Prevention and management of obesity.

Accents in this research are on healthy living, a healthy environment and healthy health care (bringing together prevention and care). Joop ten Dam is Professor of applied sciences on Healthy Cities, and Carry Renders, Ingrid Bakker and Tommy Visscher are associate professors on one of the three research accents.

The department of Healthy Cities is a partner in the Research Center for Overweight Prevention Zwolle (OPOZ), an initiative of Windesheim and the Amsterdam Free University.
The research is done in close cooperation with Zwolle Healthy City & partners, and (inter)national programmes and agencies.

Zwolle, Healthy City

In 2010, the Mayor and Aldermen of Zwolle unanimously agreed to become the first city to adopt the French EPODE approach which was translated into the JOGG (Jongeren op Gezond Gewicht / Healthy Weight for Youths) approach in the Netherlands.
Since its first implementation in the Netherlands in 2010 in Zwolle as ‘Zwolle, Gezonde Stad’ (Zwolle, Healthy City), more than 100 municipalities have joined this Dutch movement and are now working with the integral and inter-sectoral community approach for healthy weight among children aged 0-19 years. The JOGG initiative is based on the Epode methodology, with an emphasis on political commitment, public private partnerships, social marketing and scientific research. The JOGG approach has an extra pillar: combining prevention and care.

Our research based on the measurement of more than 10,000 children aged 4 – 13 years showed a decrease in the prevalence of childhood obesity in our city since the implementation of the Zwolle Healthy City programme, whereas such decreases are not seen in our national data.


Examples of multidisciplinary research projects within Zwolle Healthy City are:

  • Measuring and interviewing all 9,000 primary-school children in Zwolle in 2006, 2009 and 2012 (by OPOZ)
  • A pilot in taking care of overweight children
  • Child-friendly routes in the neighbourhood
  • Developing attractive green playgrounds
  • Measuring the use of an interactive soccer wall ‘Sutu’
  • Promoting active living for the elderly
  • Healthy sports canteens
  • Developing and using a playground scan.