This report provides details of the proposed long-term approach to reducing the childhood and adult obesity prevalence in Medway.
This report provided details of the proposed long-term approach to reducing the childhood and adult obesity prevalence in Medway. This was considered to be Medway’s biggest population health challenge. The Board’s attention was drawn to the data set out in section 2 of the report which demonstrated that obesity rates in Medway, particularly among the adult population, continued to be challenging.
It was explained that the proposed whole system approach to tackling obesity followed the steps outlined in the Public Health England (PHE) publication called the ‘Whole systems approach to obesity’ and it would build on existing activity which had been delivered through the Medway Healthy Weight Network. It was noted that the Public Health Team had created a directory of known actions and interventions which aimed to reduce obesity.
In response to questions regarding engagement, it was explained that there would be a number of sub groups feeding in the Healthy Weight Network including a Medway Food Partnership Group (agenda item 9) and a Medway Physical Activity Network. Whilst it was explained that Medway’s Workplace Health Team undertook a lot of outreach work, the Board was encouraged to help the Public Health Team make connections with local initiatives that they were aware of and identify any other avenues of engagement. With respect to increasing engagement with schools, it was suggested that the Head of Health and Wellbeing Services present to the four area specific zones under the Medway Educational Leaders Association (MELA) and the Education Partnership.
In response to a question regarding the effect of breastfeeding on obesity, it was explained that breastfeeding reduced the risk of obesity many years after birth. Breastfeeding also benefited mothers in terms of accelerating weight loss after birth and had wider benefits in relation to attachment.
With regards to a question on quality versus quantity of food, it was explained that obesity was caused fundamentally by consuming more calories than burned and was less associated with food quality. Although it was recognised that consuming high quality foods had wider benefits.
Concerning existing interventions, Members raised further points and questions including:
· A concern was expressed in relation to accessibility of leisure opportunities at for example country parks, it was considered that the cost of parking could be prohibitive.
· Asked about the value of the exercise referral scheme, it was explained that Medway had one of the best schemes in the country.
In response to a question concerning best practice, it was explained that good practice was evident in Finland and some US States. However, there was limited good practice nationally as many local authorities faced similar challenges to Medway in regards to obesity prevalence. Areas with lower obesity rates were generally more affluent. The upcoming Healthy Weight Summit would promote best practice found in Finland.
The Health and Wellbeing Board:
a) noted that tackling obesity is a core priority area relating to and directly impacting on all five themes of the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy;
b) recommended Cabinet to support the proposed whole system approach to tackling obesity in Medway which will include the establishment of a Healthy Weight Core Working Group as set out in paragraph 4.4.2 of the report to review existing actions and develop a Whole Systems Action Plan as set out in section 4 of the report;
c) agreed to encourage stakeholders and organisations to engage with the Healthy Weight Network;
d) noted that the Director of People – Children and Adults Services would arrange for the contact details for the four area specific zones under the Medway Educational Leaders Association to be provided to the Head of Health and Wellbeing Services and that the Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools would suggest to the Education Partnership that the Head of Health and Wellbeing Services presents the whole systems approach to tackling obesity to the Partnership;
e) noted the value of the exercise referral scheme; and
f) agreed to receive a further report with the Whole Systems Action Plan in February 2021.