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LGA and PHE team up in new locally-tailored obesity programme

Public Health England, the LGA and the Association of Directors of Public Health have commissioned Leeds Beckett University to lead a programme to find new ways for councils to tackle obesity.

The three-year programme will be funded by PHE to enable councils to make a major step in their approach towards obesity, which previous research has already suggested can only be done through a ‘whole systems’ approach. This will look to link a range of sectors including planning, housing, transport, children’s and adult’s services, business and health.

Paul Gately, professor of exercise and obesity at the university, said a whole systems approach ensures people transition into a healthier environment “because we’ve addressed the system-level problems”.

He added that work at the university had previously found that part of the obesity problem is lack of comprehensive support for people after they lose weight, given that they are immersed in an external environment “full of pressures”.

The Leeds Beckett team will collaborate with several pilot local authorities to understand their circumstances and perspectives in order to develop best practices and co-produce new approaches that accurately reflect what matters to councils.

A key element of this will include expanding research worldwide to identify case studies of good practice.

Local authorities and the Leeds Beckett team will then create a ‘roadmap’ of practical strategies for councils to apply on the ground to address the current high levels of obesity nationwide.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “Almost two thirds of adults and a third of primary school children are overweight or obese which increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers and is associated with poor mental health.

"This three-year programme will consider the evidence on ‘what works’ and develop and pilot an approach to support local authorities in their ongoing work to tackle and prevent obesity.”

And Pinki Sahota, professor of nutrition and childhood obesity at Leeds Beckett, said: “Obesity is a major global health crisis and tackling obesity is a complex and multifaceted problem. Local authorities are investing great efforts into tackling these issues, but clearly they are enthusiastic to do more and gain the benefits that come from a healthier population.

“All the evidence shows that if we can link together many of the influencing factors on obesity by coordinating action and integration across multiple sectors, including health, social care, planning, housing, transport and business, then we can bring about major change to combatting obesity, making better use of resources and improving wellbeing and prosperity.”


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