27 Oct 2016 Local Authority Declaration on Healthy Weight – St Helens experience
St Helens has undertaken various approaches over many years to try and increase the prevalence of healthy weight and halt the increase in unhealthy weight. Currently, adult obesity stands at almost 30% and obesity in children, as captured in the NCMP, currently stands at 10% in reception age and increases to 20% amongst year pupils, demonstrating a clear linear increase in unhealthy weight through generations.
In 2014 a Healthy Weight Strategy was launched which highlighted 3 priority areas to address – people, places and policy. Action since then has included:
People- reframing weight management services to include more universal preventive programmes and recommissioning of specialist weight management services.
Policy- building on the successful supplementary planning guidance, working with local take aways on a chip fryer award, healthier take-aways.
Places- introducing the workplace wellbeing charter with local businesses; healthy eating awards in early years settings and schools, introducing a range of outdoor gyms across the borough and promotion of active travel.
When Food Active developed the Local Authority Declaration on Healthy Weight this presented an ideal resource to use to put our own local spin on said declaration and have this adopted across the council to ensure a commitment to increasing healthy weight. Key to ensuring uptake included:
- Availability of local data highlighting the issue, particularly amongst children (via NCMP)
- National Childhood Obesity Strategy coverage within the media generating the interest of local press, the local population and members.
- Proactive and passionate cabinet member for Public Health who took on a personal approach to highlighting the need for such a declaration convincing peers to adopt.
- Being the first council in Merseyside to adopt the declaration.
The declaration highlighted the work that was already underway and provided an opportunity for the council to commit to a whole system approach. It raised the profile of the work on healthy weight and provided cross council support for a number of initiatives that are being taken forward.
Dympna Edwards, Assistant Director Public Health, St Helens BC