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Children's health and food
Ten ambitions for London
This report is written in response to the Mayor of London’s request to the London Child Obesity Taskforce to identify what actions are needed for London’s children to be a healthy weight.
As a Taskforce, we identified three things needed to step-change the important work already going on:
Actions, however well meaning, will address inequity only if they are based on an understanding of the realities of the lives of London’s children and their families – and seek to provide support, rather than stigma and blame. If we are going to fix the system, we need to understand how children experience it on the inside. This is why our first action as a taskforce was to develop some profiles of London’s children. Engaging children, especially those living in poverty, in co-designing solutions also has potential to make action more effective and equitable.
There is a lot going on across London, but much needs to be done to truly change the whole system around children’s lives. Actions are needed at multiple levels working together and reinforcing each other to reshape what children eat and drink and the activity they do. This means connecting existing actions to create greater consistency and coherence throughout children’s lives, and identifying actions with ripple effects that will enable the system to change. A systems approach also means dispersing leadership throughout the system, so everyone is taking responsibility for action towards shared ambitions.
Many of the positive initiatives to date have been small scale, short term and patchy. We want to see promising work scaled up and extended, minimum standards set across London, capacity built where it is lacking, and new, powerful actions trialled and implemented.
Our ambitions and actions recognise that three types of changes are needed to get to what good looks like:
Children and their families need skills, assets and financial resources that give them capacity to live better lives.
Children of all ages need to be surrounded by an environment that enables them to eat healthily, drink water and take plenty of physical exercise. That means implementing changes throughout the spaces where children live their lives and spend their days.
When children and their families are struggling, they should be able to easily find care and support that fits into their lives. We need these changes implemented coherently and consistently from the very earliest years. This will involve building the teams, knowledge, partnerships and leadership needed for systems change.
To achieve these shared ambitions, we thus call on all organisations that impact on the daily lives of parents and their children, from infancy right through the teenage years, to step up and lead change.
In addition to the Association of London Directors of Children’s Service.
Authored by the Child Obesity London Taskforce, chaired by Paul Lindley OBE and supported by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
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