INFORMATION RESOURCES ON OBESITY
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National policy context
In July 2004 a PSA target specifically on obesity was set for the first time - 'halting the year-on-year rise in obesity among children aged under 11 by 2010 in the context of a broader strategy to tackle obesity in the population as a whole'.
This target was updated in October 2007 to a new long-term ambition: ‘to reduce the proportion of overweight and obese children to 2000 levels by 2020 in the context of tackling obesity across the population’. This places more emphasis on a healthy weight, and also on more long-term action across the different government departments.
The PSA Delivery Agreement 12: to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people sets out the standards and targets that PCTs are expected to work towards, with local authorities and NHS partnerships.
National data will be provided by the Health Survey for England on an annual basis. At a local level this information will be provided by the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), where all PCTs are expected to weigh and measure all children in Reception and Year 6. Further information on the NCMP is available elsewhere in the Obesity theme pages.
Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: a Cross-Government Strategy for England Strategy (2008)
This is the first stage of the Government's response to the Foresight report "Tackling Obesity: Future Choices" and it sets out a clear vision of the role of individuals and families, the private sector, society and Government in tackling obesity. The strategy will focus on five areas: healthy children, promoting healthier food choices, building physical activity into our daily lives, creating incentives for better health and personalised information and care for people already overweight or obese. The below link will take you to the strategy as well as the Foresight report and details about the National Childhood Measurement Programme.
Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: Obesity Prevalence Ready Reckoner for the East Midlands
As part of the Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: a Toolkit for Developing Local Strategies, the Obesity Prevalence Ready-Reckoner Tool was developed to provide a better understanding of the scale of obesity within a PCT. The Obesity Prevalence Ready Reckoner can be used to estimate the number of adults (16 years and over) or the number of children (aged 2-15 years) within a PCT that are overweight or obese. More information on the toolkit and an electronic version of the Ready Reckoner tool can be found online at the following links:
Using the Obesity Prevalence Ready Reckoner, EMPHO has calculated the following for each PCT
- Estimate of the number of people that are obese
- Estimate of the number of people who have a raised waist circumference
- Estimate of the number of children who are obese.
It is important to note that the ready-reckoner uses national data and does not take into account local factors such as ethnicity, deprivation or other factors that might affect overweight and obesity prevalence. People are advised to use the above links to gain further background information on the tool. Spreadsheets containing the above information can be found through the following link:
Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: A New Direction for Community Services (2006)
The White Paper, ‘Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: A New Direction for Community Services’, published in January 2006, set a new direction for the health and social care system. It confirms the vision set out in the Department of Health Green Paper, ‘Independence, Well-being and Choice’ and proposes there will be a shift in the way in which services are delivered, ensuring that they are more personalised and fit into people's busy lives. It explains in detail the improvements the Government is going to make to health and social care services, why it feels these changes are necessary and the steps it is taking to make sure they happen.
The White Paper aims to achieve four main goals:
- better prevention services with earlier intervention
- people to have more choice and a louder voice
- more to be done to tackle inequalities and improve access to community services
- more support for people with long-term needs
Chapter 2 addresses the need for continued promotion of good diet and physical activity levels in all age groups to reduce levels of obesity and obesity-related diseases.
National dietary and physical activity action plans that are in place have already been addressed earlier in the section but other initiatives are also in place to tackle overweight and obesity. These include:
- GP Contract: Practices are now required to offer relevant health promotion advice to patients, before deciding to prescribe weight loss drugs
- Pharmacy Contract: Community pharmacies are to offer weight reduction programmes, with signposting to other services and the potential to refer people to personal trainers for low income earner
Choosing Health: Making Healthy Choices Easier (2004)
‘Choosing Health’ sets out how the government will work in partnership with a variety of organisations to implement a campaign to raise awareness of the health risks of obesity and the steps people can take through diet and physical activity to prevent obesity. This paper lists various government-led initiatives including the delivery of NICE guidance on the prevention, identification, management and treatment of obesity; production of a healthy weight loss guide and development of a comprehensive care pathway for obesity, providing a model for prevention and treatment.
Delivering Choosing Health (2005)
The ‘Delivering Choosing Health’ delivery plan highlights how the Department of Health and the NHS, within the framework of government policies, will help more people make healthier choices and reduce health inequalities. It outlines the priorities for delivery at national, regional and local levels and what will be done by whom and when. It brings into one place all of the actions on the White Paper commitments, alongside related Public Service Agreements and local targets to improve health. It describes how Government will drive forward delivery through:
- Government targets to improve health
- New partnerships between industry, the voluntary sector and professional groups
- New services delivered by local authorities and the NHS
Pages 26-28 of the document sets out Priority C: Tackling Obesity, including plans to increase sport uptake by younger people and promotional campaigns to encourage parents to make healthier choices for themselves and their children.
Pages 35-38 set out Priority G: Helping Children and Young People to Lead Healthy Lives, including implementing new healthy school standards and improving youth work to support young people’s choices.
Pages 39-40 set out Priority H: Promoting Healthy and Active Life Amongst Older People, including local physical activity programmes and health messages targeted at people in midlife to avert the risk of poor health in later life.
Choosing a Better Diet: A Food and Health Action Plan (2005)
This action plan summarises how the nutrition commitments outlined in the ‘Choosing Health: Making Healthy Choices Easier’ White Paper will be achieved and details the necessary actions required from a range of organisations to improve nutrition and health in England and to reduce health inequalities. It includes action on:
- Advertising and promotion of foods to children
- Simplified food labelling
- Obesity Education and Prevention
- Nutritional standards in schools, hospitals and the workplace
The Government recognises intersectoral collaboration is needed, not only at a national level, but also regionally and locally, if these commitments are to be achieved. The overall aim of ‘Choosing a Better Diet’ is to improve the health in England by reducing the prevalence of diet related disease, and to reduce obesity in England by improving the nutritional balance of the average diet.
More information on this paper can be found on the EMPHO Food and Health regional policy theme page or on the following Department of Health link.
Following are some examples of the national dietary initiatives/action plans that are in place to help tackle overweight and obesity:
- SureStart: Encouraging women to breastfeed and to continue for at least six months as breastfed babies are less likely to develop obesity in later life too.
- Healthy Start: Ensure that children in low-income families have access to a healthy diet, and improve support for breastfeeding.
- 5 A DAY programme: Increase the availability and consumption of fruit and vegetables. This programme is supported by the School Fruit and Veg Scheme, which provides a daily free piece of fruit or vegetable to over 2 million 4-6 year olds.
- Food in Schools Programme: This initiative is led by the Department of Health and Department for Education and Skills and aims to help schools to implement a whole school approach to healthy eating and food education.
- Ofsted evaluation: School food assessment is now a part of the routine school evaluation.
- School Food Trust: This was established by the Department for Education and Skills in 2005 and aims to transform school food and food skills, promote the education and health of children and young people and improve the quality of food in schools.
- Work with the Food Industry: To address the levels of fat, salt and added sugar in the diet. Changes that have been brought about include accurate and informative food labeling developments and ‘traffic-light’ labeling so consumers have a quick and easy reference guide regarding the nutritional profile of the food being purchased. Also work to address the way in which foods are marketed towards young people.
- National Healthy School Standard: The National Healthy School Standard is part of the Healthy Schools programme, led by the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health. It offers support for local programme coordinators and provides an accreditation process for education and health partnerships. The standard covers eight key themes: healthy eating, personal, social and health education (PSHE), citizenship, drug education, emotional health and well-being, physical activity, safety, and sex and relationship education.
Choosing activity: a physical activity action plan (2005)
‘Choosing Activity: a physical activity action plan’ sets out the Government’s plans to encourage and co-ordinate the action of a range of departments and organisations to promote increased participation in physical activity across England. It is a summary of how the commitments on physical activity presented in the white paper ‘Choosing Health: making healthier choices easier’ will be delivered. It brings together all the commitments relating to physical activity in Choosing Health as well as other action across government, which will contribute to increasing levels of physical activity. These include school PE and sport and local action to encourage activity through sport, transport plans, the use of green spaces and by the NHS providing advice to individuals on increasing activity through the use of pedometers.
Following are some examples of the national initiatives regarding physical activity that are in place to tackle overweight and obesity:
- Local Exercise Action Pilots: These are locally run pilot programmes to test and evaluate new ways of encouraging people to take up more physical activity.
- National PE, School Sports and Club Links Strategy: This is jointly led by the Department for Education and Skills and Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The target is to increase the percentage of children in England spending a minimum of two hours weekly on high-qulaity PE and school sport to 85% by 2008.
- Green Gyms: Providing people with opportunities to increase their levels of physical activity through involvement in practical conservation activities.
- Walking the Way to Health Initiative: This group aims to get more people walking in their own communities and it has been estimated that over one million people have been encouraged to walk more since 2000.
- Well@Work pilots: Assessing different ‘healthy intervention’ methods aimed at improving employee health at a variety of workplaces to determine which methods improve employee health and which do not.
- Department of Transport Travel Planning: Encourage schools, workplaces and communities to consider sustainable travel options which also increase physical activity.
- Schools on the Move: pedometers in schools: Between September 2007, and March 2008, 45,000 pedometers will be distributed to 250 schools to encourage children to become more active. A pilot study has shown that they do increase childrens' levels of physical activity and that they are particularly effective at encouraging less active children to become fitter.
Game Plan: a strategy for delivering Government’s sport & physical activity objectives (2002)
In December 2001 the Strategy Unit and the Department for Culture, Media & Sport were commissioned by the Prime Minister to produce a study examining long-term sports policy. The ultimate aim of the report was to refine Government objectives for sport and physical activity and identify ways of improving the delivery of Government support.
The report covers a number of topics including the current position of sport, why the government should invest in sport and physical activity, a 20 year vision for sport and physical activity, increasing participation and enhancing international success. It concludes that the Government can best add value by setting itself two objectives: firstly to increase participation in sport and physical activity (on the basis of the associated significant health benefits), and secondly to improve success at international competition. Recommendations to achieve these objectives were split into four domains:
- Grass roots participation – reduce barriers to sport and physical activity
- High performance sport – prioritization of sports that are funded at the highest level, talent development programmes, more focused on customer needs
- Mega sporting events – a more cautious approach to hosting events with a set process for Government involvement
- Delivery – organizational reform and a determination of what is actually needed before further state investment in sport. Less money on bureaucracy and more on the end user. Partnership working.
Every Child Matters (2003)
In 2003 the Government published a paper entitled ‘Every Child Matters’ which identified the five outcomes that are most important to children and young people, namely: Be Healthy; Stay Safe; Enjoy and Achieve; Make a Positive Contribution and Achieve Economic Well-Being. The topic of obesity is tackled in the ‘Be Healthy’ outcome where an indicator is included for the percentage of those obese under the age of 11, within the aim to ensure that children and young people are physically healthy.
- Department of Health (2004). National Standards, Local Action: Health and Social Care Standards and Planning Framework 2005/06 – 2007/08.
- Department of Health (2005). Choosing a Better Diet: A Food and Health Action Plan.
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PAGE CREATED: 1 April 2007 | PAGE REVISED: 7 July 2009