In their November 2020 report ‘COVID-19 and the Northern Powerhouse: Tackling inequalities for health and productivity’, Professor Clare Bambra and colleagues argue that existing inequalities have left the North more vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic, with both the economy and people’s health suffering disproportionately when compared to other regions. The fact that these regional inequalities persist even after the researchers accounted for deprivation and other known social determinants, highlights other factors at play.
In ‘Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review’, Professor Sir Michael Marmot warns that we have a generation of children and young people at risk of worsening health and having shorter lives following the COVID-19 pandemic, with lack of social cohesion and joined-up working likely to exacerbate the problem. Marmot supports the findings by Bambra and colleagues demonstrating that the more deprived the local authority, the higher the COVID-19 death rate, with North of England worst hit. This also mirrors the pre-pandemic widening of health and social inequalities between regions.
The UK Government’s latest Obesity Strategy published in July 2020 can be seen as a direct response to the links between obesity and poor COVID outcomes. Whilst progressive policies are being driven forward nationally through the strategy, Food Active argues that there needs to be a set of specific policies promoting healthy weight for the North of England as a means to start levelling disparities between the North and South.
At the #FACONF, we launched a set of 8 ambitious policies that focus specifically on healthy weight and inequalities in the North of England. As part of this piece of work, we will be seeking support for these policies from stakeholders across the region, including those from: Local Authorities, NHS organisations, the voluntary and faith sectors, transport providers, business sector, local and regional media, academics and education settings. Through this engagement, we will continue to consult and finalise the policy calls, and identify key stakeholders to be part of a working group with representation across all regions of the North to help drive the project forward.
The aim will then to be present the policy call to Metro Mayors and political leaders across the North of England and gain further support.
Ahead of sharing this policy call with Metro Mayors and political leaders across the region, we are keen to engage organisations as ‘named supporters’ that will feature as part of an annex to the policy call’s briefing document.
If you are interested in being a part of this work, please click on the button below to register your interest.
We will be in contact again with stakeholder organisations in the early part of Spring 2021 to determine levels of support. We hope you can join us in our ambition to reduce levels of overweight, obesity and health inequalities in the North of England through this programme of work.