Professor explores continuing rise of childhood obesity
In the lecture Professor Sahota looked at the challenge of reversing the trends in the increasing levels of childhood obesity in the UK and beyond, as well as offering recommendations for future interventions to practitioners, researchers and policy makers.
Professor Sahota explains: "The World Health Organisation has acknowledged that childhood obesity is a major international public health issue. Within the UK, data has highlighted that 22.6% of children are already either overweight or obese at school entry and that by the time they leave primary school this has increased to 33.9%. Research indicates that there is high likelihood for an obese child to become an obese adult and we know that the health consequences of obesity during childhood are significant including conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
"There is therefore an urgent need for effective interventions and this lecture will draw on the development, delivery and evaluation of a number of childhood obesity prevention programmes to make recommendations for future interventions. It is clear that a co-ordinated approach is essential across government departments that links with the food industry, media, local government, health and social services, local communities, parents and carers to ensure that healthier choices are the easier choices in our everyday lives."
The lecture concluded by highlighting future directions for research that involve the experience of users, practitioners and researchers in order to develop, deliver and evaluate interventions to address this major public health issue.
Professor Pinki Sahota is Professor of Nutrition and Childhood Obesity in the Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Leeds Metropolitan University. Pinki qualified as a dietitian in 1982 and has worked in the NHS within the acute and primary healthcare settings for over 17 years before starting her career in academia in 2000. Her interest in health services research emerged whilst working as a community dietitian in Bradford and Leeds and a keen interest then developed in the design and evaluation of tailored interventions aimed at improving nutritional health.
Pinki's work is fundamental in developing more effective approaches to the increasing challenge of promoting healthier eating and weight management particularly in school-aged children and the early years. Professor Sahota is at the forefront of this work both through her research and through the development of more effective approaches including 'Empower', a health visitor-led programme, and 'HAPPY"', a lifestyle parenting programme targeting parents which are clearly contributing to the current evidence base and influencing practice.
Pinki has a long-standing interest in community-based interventions aimed at improving the nutritional health of children and thereby reducing health inequalities. Her aim is to continue to develop evidence-based interventions involving users and practitioners in the design, delivery and evaluation with the long-term aim of reversing the trends in the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity.