Current activities

1. Building capacity within the VCFSE sector to co-create interventions for local populations; Timescale: April 2023-24

In response to the findings from the scoping phase in Year 1, we will co-design a capacity building programme with VCFSE organisations across C&M. The programme will stimulate leadership from the 9 local VCS umbrella organisations on addressing obesity, with a view to cascading materials and training down to smaller third sector partners and community hubs at local level.

The work package will build capacity across the sector through development of a VCFSE toolkit that will give community organisations the knowledge and skills to co-design interventions promoting healthier weight that are appropriate for local needs e.g. healthier cooking sessions held at community food pantries. The programme will also consider the challenges of food insecurity for low-income populations, the cost of living crisis, better access to fresh and healthier foods, and greater understanding of the association between obesity and cancers.

2. Using planning levers to positively contribute to healthy weight within communities; Timescale: April 2023-March 2025

Councils have an opportunity to use their role as local planning authorities to the full, drawing on the legislative and regulatory provisions of the planning system and its specific applicability to key issues affecting prevalence of overweight and obesity such as the food environment. This is recognised in national policies including the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the National Design Guide 2021. 

There are also significant opportunities to use planning levers to promote levels of everyday physical activity through active travel planning and infrastructure, plus greater access to green space. The Local Plan is a key delivery tool for improving health; working collaboratively across the sub-regional footprint with planning teams in local authorities may provide an opportunity to consider the development of a co-produced joint planning MOU/vision or agreement to:

3. Junk food advertising and commercial determinants of health; Timescale: April 2023-March 2025 

Advertising featuring products that are high in fat sugar and/or salt (HFSS) are pervasive and targeted. For example, a child’s bus journey to school may include a bombardment of HFFS marketing, whether this be at the bus stop, on bus tickets, in-bus advertising, street billboards or telephone box advertising. 

This type of outdoor advertising is effective, as people will tend to see the same messages each day in their way to work or school. This repeat exposure encourages increased brand awareness, preference and purchase habits, and evidence shows this contributes to the obesogenic environment.

Recent work in Greater London and Bristol has shown that HFSS advertising can be significantly reduced or event prohibited across transport networks and beyond, with aligned research demonstrating the health benefits and cost savings to the NHS in taking this approach. 

This work package will consider levers that can be used to push back on the prevalence of HFSS advertising on transport networks and marketing assets within our towns and cities.

4. Reducing incidence of weight stigma in NHS clinical settings Timescale: April 2023-March 2025

Data from the scoping phase in Year 1, in particular from the focus groups and public survey, highlighted the importance of talking about overweight and obesity in a non-stigmatising way. This is an approach that is increasingly being called for within the NHS settings, with a recent report from the APPG for Obesity recommending training for all healthcare professionals to ensure appropriate and correct usage of language regarding obesity and broadening understanding of the causes of obesity.

This work package will build on initial scoping research undertaken by HEG and will bring together a working group, including patients with lived experience, service leads, and clinicians, to develop and pilot a training programme for healthcare professionals in clinical settings to address the following factors:

 5. Connectivity and Communications (ongoing work package)

Key actions across 2023-34 will include: