How can an area that has recently established childhood obesity as a priority get going?

The challenges involved in instigating work on childhood obesity include: How to turn a shared commitment into shared action; How to secure action beyond the public health team; How to get maximum impact from disparate activity; How to get better links between the NHS and local government.

From the discussion at the Assembly and learning from the five Trailblazers it is possible to identify at least three areas in which action can be taken to establish work on childhood obesity as a priority:

  • creating a compelling context for the work
  • marshalling member and partner engagement
  • taking time to get it right.

Compelling context

Positioning action on childhood obesity in a wider context can help to galvanise action. The context could include, for example, action on economic recovery or action to tackle health inequalities. This can help to secure a wider whole system approach rather than a narrow focus on, for example, weight management. Existing evidence bases can be used to help create and promote this context.

Marshalling engagement

Different places have secured wider engagement and interest in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Mobilising elected members, including relevant portfolio holders (particularly the economy and children’s services as well as health and wellbeing)
  • Using the health and wellbeing board as a way of raising the profile of childhood obesity and securing NHS and wider partner involvement
  • Ensuring that there is a discussion on the topic at the council’s corporate management team as a way of getting senior involvement across the council.

The learning from one of the trailblazers highlighted two important points. First, identifying who the “right people are” and bringing them to the table (or zoom). Second, being clear from the outset what is required from each partner, which makes it easier for them to play their part.

Taking time to get it right

One important lesson from several of the trailblazers is not to under-estimate the amount of time it can take to get the basics right. This includes recruitment, procurement, other internal processes and ensuring that there is a shared understanding of and commitment to the task. Taking time at the start of a project can save time later.