Cancer Research UK states that overweight and obesity is the second biggest cause of cancer in the UK, with more than 1 in 20 cancer cases are caused by excess weight, whilst over 40% of specific types of cancers (e.g. breast, bowel, kidney) can be specifically attributable to obesity.

Health Equalities Group (parent charity for the Food Active programme), is currently delivering a long-term project for the Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance (CMCA) to develop a ‘hub’ of connectivity, bringing together system leaders and stakeholders, including non-health stakeholders such as housing, transport, employers and VCFSE organisations, to increase the overall volume and reach of initiatives designed to improve rates of overweight and obesity within the sub-region.

Whilst a number of Cancer Alliances in England are starting to incorporate upstream prevention into their programmes, in particular treating tobacco dependency, the Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance is the first to commission a specific project addressing overweight and obesity, the benefits of which will exceed cancer outcomes alone.

Speaking about this pioneering approach for a Cancer Alliance, Steve Jones, Senior Project Manager at CMCA said:

“As a Cancer Alliance we are aware that a project addressing overweight and obesity is something of a departure from our traditional core focus, but we are committed to taking an upstream, preventative approach to a significant and modifiable risk factor for certain cancers.

As a sub-region Cheshire and Merseyside has above average rates of overweight and obesity in child and adult populations, whilst we also have higher than average rates of cancer prevalence. Not only will this project seek to stimulate connectivity across the system amongst traditional health and non-health stakeholders, but this emerging area of preventative work will link with existing screening services and CMCA projects around early diagnosis.”