A study commissioned by Public Health England will examine the obesity epidemic in Britain with the intention of finding lasting solutions.
In particular, researchers at Leeds Beckett University will investigate the best way for local authorities to tackle this growing problem.
Public Health England has worked in collaboration with the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Public Health Germany, and with colleagues in local government organisations in commissioning this program.
All of the groups involved will attempt to identify methods that local authorities can use in order to create a holistic approach to tackle obesity.
The program has been funded by Public Health England, and will run over a three-year period.
It is hoped that a cohesive and co-ordinated approach will be developed by experts at the Leeds-based university.
Previous research has indicated that a whole systems approach is essential in addressing the obesity epidemic.
Central to this will be linking a whole range of sectors and influences including planning, housing, transport, children’s and adult’s services, business and health.
By attempting to implement this scheme at the local level, it is hoped that local authorities across the country will be able to make significant inroads into the obesity battle.
Although there are obvious health benefits to winning this particular struggle, it is also suggested that tackling obesity effectively can improve quality of life, save money for local authorities, and even contribute to sustained prosperity for regions across the country.
The Leeds Beckett’s team will work closely alongside a number of pilot local authorities to understand their perspectives and the realities for local government.
Capturing best practice, the importance of collaborative working, and the co-ordination of new and innovative approaches to obesity will all be floated as part of the overarching scheme.
Researchers at the university will be carrying out a systematic review of research evidence on the subject of obesity, while also gathering experience of dealing with the problem from across the world, thus gathering a raft of good practice case studies.
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, outlined its importance.
“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,” Sahota asserted.
The Health Survey for England indicated recently that 62.1 percent of UK adults are overweight or obese (67.1 percent of men and 57.2 percent of women).