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Leeds event to share findings to tackle obesity


A national event, which will explore how to tackle the country’s growing obesity epidemic, is set to be held in Leeds.

In 2015, Leeds Beckett began a three-year programme, funded by Public Health England, to identify ways in which local authorities can create a whole systems approach in tackling obesity.  The team’s progress on creating a route map for tackling obesity will be shared at the event, which will take place at Leeds Town Hall on Tuesday 18 October.

The three-year programme, funded by Public Health England, aims to enable local authorities to make a major step change in their ability to tackle obesity through a more coordinated approach. Previous research has suggested that only by taking a whole systems approach – linking a whole range of sectors and influences including planning, housing, transport, children’s and adult’s services, business and health - can local authorities make significant inroads into tackling obesity and improve quality of life, save money and create sustained prosperity for local areas.

Alison Tedstone, National Lead Diet and Obesity for Public Health England, will speak at the event, alongside Jim McManus from the Association of Directors of Public Health and obesity expert Professor Paul Gately from Leeds Beckett.  Insights from Local Authorities who have been part of a pilot programme, will also be shared.

Speaking ahead of the event, Paul Gately, Professor of Exercise & Obesity at Leeds Beckett, said: “At Leeds Beckett we’ve been at the forefront of understanding the issues involved in tackling obesity and finding solutions for over twenty years.  We have found that part of the problem is after we successfully support people to lose weight they still have to function in an external environment which is full of pressures and challenges.  By changing the external environment through a whole systems approach, local authorities can make it easier for individuals to reach a healthy weight and keep surplus weight off.”

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, added: “We know that where we live, work and play encourages us to consume too many calories and lead sedentary lifestyles. We need action from across society to support healthier places that in turn help people to achieve a healthier weight. The Whole Systems Obesity programme will help local authorities to do just that.”

Other topics to be discussed at the event include sessions on data and information, including the value of big data, engaging communities, how we talk about obesity and why it matters and working in partnership to create a more comprehensive approach to influencing the local food environment.

The Leeds Beckett’s team have been working closely alongside a number of pilot local authorities to understand their perspectives and the realities for local government, capturing best practice, working collaboratively to overcome challenges, to co-produce new and innovative approaches that reflect what really matters to local authorities in using the latest thinking and making it work in practice for local people.  

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