Agenda item

Whole Systems Approach to Obesity Priorities for 2021/22

Following the Medway Healthy Weight Summit on 11 March 2021 and participation from Network members, this report provides some context around the Medway obesity data and a summary of priorities for the coming year.




The Board considered a report, introduced by the Head of Health and Wellbeing, which provided details of the 2021/22 priority action areas to tackle obesity. The actions set out in paragraph 3.3 of the report had been produced collaboratively by the Healthy Weight Network and were reliant on partnership working. Drawing on updated data since the Board considered a report in February 2020, the Head of Health and Wellbeing emphasised that to tackle the wicked issue of obesity, a sustained long term, system-wide, approach was needed. This was echoed by the Director of Public Health and the Chairman of the Board.


In response to comments and questions around creating balance when encouraging individuals to lose weight without negatively impacting their mental health, and the nuances around the language used, the Director of Public Health was mindful of avoiding unintended harm. The Board was advised that individuals ought to be encouraged to access the range of existing support services and be empowered to make a change to lose weight, as necessary, without experiencing shame or challenge to their own wellbeing/ self-image. Referring to successful stop smoking marketing, the Head of Health and Wellbeing also described that there needed to be a balance of carrot and stick. Research had suggested that communications could be targeted differently toward different audiences. An example of a successful weight management intervention, Man vs Fat, was given, where the word ‘Fat’ could be judged to be very direct.


In response to questions about joining up activity to support a reduction in obesity and ensuring longevity, it was explained that in a recent ‘call to action’, elected Members were provided with information on Ward level activity related to tackling obesity and ideas around actions they could take. It was recognised that the knowledge and reach provided by elected Members to engage with the community was beneficial.


Similar area-based information would be provided to local Primary Care Networks/GPs in due course. This was welcomed, particularly as it was a key issue for the system. PCN colleagues had already identified obesity as one of the priorities they wanted the ICP and the wider system to work on. A keenness was expressed to pool resources to have one integrated plan and approach. The use of a consistent branding was welcomed. Indeed, linking to broader work on population health management, prevention and wider determinants of health was also welcomed.


With respect to campaigns going forward, subject to satisfying grant conditions, it was hoped that an announcement could be made on this soon. The Board was assured that there was a commitment to sustained, long term, action. This was evidenced in the Government’s recent White Paper.


Clarification was provided in relation to the financial implications set out within the report. No additional funding to undertake the priority actions was requested from the Local Authority or its partners. Actions committed to would be funded from within existing budgets. This had been reviewed by Medway Council finance colleagues. It was suggested that the wording within the report be reviewed to state ‘there are no new financial responsibilities currently being sought’.


The Head of Health and Wellbeing explained that quarterly status reports would be produced in relation to the actions. A directory of interventions would also be regularly updated. This directory outlined all interventions currently underway or, as the case may be, on hold owing to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. A report would be provided annually to the Board which would provide an update on the 2021/22 actions and details on new priority areas.




The Health and Wellbeing Board:


a)    noted the report and the priority actions identified by the Healthy Weight Network, and

b)    noted the clarification, as set out within the minute, provided by the Head of Health and Wellbeing in relation to the financial implications within the report and requested that in a future report an indication of the financial costs of obesity to society be provided.

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