Strong support for our childhood obesity strategy

By on 28/05/2013 in Blog

Linda HindleThere are no quick-fix solutions to the childhood obesity problem, but with a new city-wide strategy to be published in July, Birmingham Public Health's Linda Hindle reveals progress is being made.

Last week we held an engagement event on childhood obesity where we asked senior leaders from different organisations across Birmingham to give their views on the emerging childhood obesity strategy.

The event was attended by representatives from the NHS, Gateway Family Services, Health Exchange, Voluntary sector, police, fire service, sport and leisure, sustainability team, environmental health, school meal and early year's settings as well as my colleagues from public health.

The event was chaired by Dr Andrew Coward from Birmingham Cross City CCG who spoke passionately about his own commitment to lead the City's ambition to tackle childhood obesity. Dr Adrian Phillips, Director of Public Health outlined the scale of the problem, making the point that 40% of Birmingham children leave primary school either overweight or obese and that this is a concern across the whole of the city. This really is an appalling statistic. Adrian highlighted the need to change the environment, support behaviour change and provide opportunities for children to be more active and eat healthy food.

The participants overwhelmingly supported the recommendations within the strategy and they gave some great comments and ideas of how to implement it. The leaders said we need actions across society, we need to support whole families rather than just children and we need to give local people a voice to make real change at a local level. Best of all, virtually every participant agreed to work with us on this agenda going forward.

I realise that one event is not enough to canvas opinion and support, so I will be speaking with colleagues who were unable to attend the event such as Services for Education whose support has been and will be invaluable. My colleague Charlene Mulhern has also been talking to young people to get their input, and their view is in line with the draft strategy, highlighting a real need to change the environment, provide more opportunities for healthy lifestyles and support individuals to change behaviour. They also suggested the need for role models, family support and opportunities for safe play and activities.

I'll be updating the strategy based on the comments received over the next few weeks with the intention of seeking approval from the Health and wellbeing board on 23 July. I'll also be setting up groups of keen and influential people to oversee the implementation of the strategy.

One further comment from the event was how we link what we are doing locally with the need for national action so I was delighted to receive an invitation on Thursday to participate, as Chair of DOM UK, in the first meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity at the House of Commons on 5 June. This will give a Birmingham voice to need for national action tackle childhood obesity.

Watch this space for how I get on.

Linda Hindle is Birmingham Public Health's Consultant Dietician and Senior Manager for Healthy Eating and Activity.

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