The Healthy Weight Declaration – Sharing the Learning: Devon County Council

The Healthy Weight Declaration – Sharing the Learning: Devon County Council

Devon County Council are one of a number of local authorities in the South West working towards adopting the Local Government Declaration on Healthy Weight, a roll-out scheme commissioned by Public Health England South West. In this article, we hear from Richard Merrifield from the Council to update on Devon’s journey towards adopting the Declaration…

 Richard Merrifield is a Advanced Public Health Practitioner at Devon County Council, whose background includes delivering and managing lifestyle services. As an Exercise Professional, Richard has a history of delivering exercise referral schemes in East Devon and Torbay. Now at Devon County Council Richard works with colleagues, 8 District Councils and many other stakeholders in delivering Public Health initiatives at population scale. The Healthy Weight Declaration will add value to the well established Sugar SMART campaign that Devon County Council launched 2017.

 Devon County Council serves a population of 760,000 residents and is the largest local authority area in the South West. Devon is a two-tier local government, with the County Council working with 8 District Councils.

Over 50 delegates from across Devon attended the Devon Healthy Weight Summit in November 2018. Representatives from district councils, leisure services, food suppliers, transport providers, elected members, midwifery, environmental health officers, early years providers and Primary Care were all in attendance.

At the event we showcased the Healthy Weight Declaration and included presentations on Whole Systems approach, Sugar SMART, Infant Feeding and Midwifery led physical activity programmes. The audience engaged in several table top discussions which led to the development of new relationships and ideas for creating healthier places in Devon.

In February 2019 we asked the stakeholders to share their actions and plans with us to help understand the impact of the Summit. We have over 40 workstreams that have been initiated because of the Summit. Devon County Council is pursuing the adoption of the Healthy Weight Declaration and a multi-agency group in North Devon led by Dr.Simon Jones are planning on taking a Whole Systems approach for the town of Barnstaple.

The journey so far:

  1. April 2018 SW PHE hosted a meeting with Food Active promoting the Healthy Weight Declaration.
  2. May 2018 Sought Public Health leadership support to building a case for adopting the Healthy Weight Declaration. This included looking at the local data and learning from the approach taken by Cumbria County Council.
  3. May 2018 Devon County Council developed an HWD public facing survey that is now included on NCMP letters and seeks the views of the Public about their local food environment and shopping habits.
  4. Sept 2018 Sought elected members who would act as Champions for the Healthy Weight Declaration.
  5. Sept 2018 Shared and promoted the Healthy Weight Declaration to our District Council partners.
  6. Nov 2018 Hosted a Healthy Weight Summit and inviting a range of stakeholders.
  7. Nov 2018 Developed a webpage for updating stakeholders on the Summit and future developments.
  8. Jan 2019 Public Health took over the Councils Social Media page for a day and sought views of the Public through HWD survey.
  9. Feb 2019 Conducted a self-assessment of Devon County Council’s baseline position against the 14 pledges and identifying areas for improvement.
  10. Feb 2019 Identified local businesses in Devon who have already reformulated food products. Plans to work with Economy colleagues to celebrate these successes.
  11. Feb 2019 Sought feedback from Stakeholders on the actions taken so far.
  12. March 2019 Presented to the leaders of the Communities, Public Health, Environment & Prosperity (Co-PHEP) directorate who approved plans to pursue full adoption of the HWD with an immediate focus on 3 priority action areas.

For more details of the Devon Healthy Weight Summit event please visit: or contact


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