Health Policy

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to tackling childhood obesity

By - Integrated Care Journal

Communities across England are to benefit from a £1.5 million government cash injection to give children the best start in life, Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy has announced. This community-centric, prevention first approach will enable local authorities to direct action taken in their area.

Five local councils with the most forward-thinking ideas on tackling childhood obesity are being supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, the Local Government Association and Public Health England (PHE) to trial creative new programmes in their areas, which could help shape future national policy.

Over the next three years Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, Nottinghamshire, Lewisham and Birmingham councils will be awarded £100,000 worth of funding and support per year to bring their plans to life. This extra funding will give each council the ability to test and refine their innovative ideas and methods.

“Every child deserves the best start in life," said Seema Kennedy, "communities need to come together to play their part in helping the next generation to be healthy and active. Prevention is at the heart of our NHS Long Term Plan, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in public health."

Among the programmes is a scheme at Birmingham City Council, which will offer health, food, nutrition and physical activity-focused apprenticeships to 15-19-year olds in the most deprived areas of the city, where rates of obesity are highest. They will also create an alternative local metric, the “Birmingham Basket” to capture local consumer habits and inform policies and measure their impact.

Funding has also been awarded to Blackburn with Darwen council, which will work with restaurants and hot food takeaways to overhaul their menus and incentivise healthier options. The scheme will look at other ways to work with outlets to adopt healthier options, including free waste removal, subsidised advertising across the council-owned estate and a potential health food hub.

Blackburn with Darwen councillors will also be asked to become 'Healthy Weight Champions', working alongside youth MPs to lead a food-focused campaign which will consider opportunities to champion healthier, sustainable food choices.

Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE, said: "While obesity has no quick fix, these trailblazers are forging innovative solutions that clearly prioritise children and their long-term health.

"From expert local knowledge to local authority intervention, community support and government action, we all have crucial roles to play in combating obesity."

The programmes will help Government to consider further actions that could be taken to enable ambitious local action on childhood obesity. Bradford will enter into a partnership with local mosques to support South Asian children – who are at a greater risk of obesity – by providing places and fun ways to exercise alongside healthier food.

The work is part of the government’s Trailblazer programme and is part of the second chapter of the Government’s childhood obesity plan, which was launched a year ago today.

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