Leeds Beckett has been commissioned by Public Health England, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health to lead a programme (in collaboration with colleagues in Local Government), to identify ways in which local authorities can create a whole systems approach in tackling obesity.
The three-year programme, funded by Public Health England, will enable local authorities to make a major step change in their ability to tackle obesity through a more coordinated approach.
Previous research has suggested that only by taking a whole systems approach – linking a whole range of sectors and influences including planning, housing, transport, children’s and adult’s services, business and health – can local authorities make significant inroads into tackling obesity and improve quality of life, save money and create sustained prosperity for local areas.
Leeds Beckett’s team will work closely alongside a number of pilot local authorities to understand their perspectives and the realities for local government, to capture best practice, work collaboratively to overcome challenges, and co-produce new and innovative approaches that reflect what really matters to local authorities in using the latest thinking and making it work in practice for local people.
Key elements of the programme include carrying out a review of the research evidence and experience from across the world and gathering case studies of good practice. The Leeds Beckett team and the pilot local authorities will then create a process and develop a roadmap and practical strategies for local authorities to apply in practice, in order to address the current high levels of obesity.
Speaking about the programme, Pinki Sahota, Professor of Nutrition & 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.”
Paul Gately, Professor of Exercise & Obesity at Leeds Beckett, added: “At Leeds Beckett we’ve been at the forefront of understanding the issues involved in tackling obesity and finding solutions for over twenty years. We have found that part of the problem is after we successfully support people to lose weight they still have to function in an external environment which is full of pressures and challenges. By changing the external environment through a whole systems approach, local authorities can make it easier for individuals to reach a healthy weight and keep surplus weight off.
“We will co-produce a roadmap which will make a real difference in tackling and preventing obesity.”