A three-year project to investigate how local authorities can develop comprehensive strategies to reduce obesity has been launched by Leeds Beckett University.
The project, funded by Public Health England, has been created to look at how a more coordinated approach to tackling obesity can be achieved. Previous research has suggested that the most effective way to do this is by involving a variety of organisations and services such as planning, housing, transport, children and adult services, business, and health and social care.
Pinki Sahota, professor of nutrition and childhood obesity at Leeds Beckett University, said: ‘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, then we can bring about major change to combating obesity, making better use of resources and improving wellbeing and prosperity.’
Key aspects of the project include reviewing the evidence base and experiences from anti-obesity strategies from across the world, and gathering examples of good practice. The team from Leeds Beckett University and the pilot local authorities will then work to develop a process to coordinate services based on the evidence, and subsequently create a pathway for practical strategies to be applied by local authorities in practice, in order to address the high levels of obesity in their area.
‘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,’ said Paul Gately, professor of exercise and obesity at Leeds Beckett University. ‘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.’