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Programmes

Childhood obesity

Strands of work

We want to break the link between low income and poor nutrition, by improving the quality of food options in lower-income neighbourhoods

Why we focus on childhood obesity

All children should have the opportunity to be healthy, no matter where they live. This includes access to a nutritious diet.

Yet children’s chances of accessing healthy food – or being flooded with unhealthy food – depend strongly on where they grow up. As a result, children living in areas of lower average income are more likely to be both malnourished and obese.

We believe that by coordinating efforts from different organisations and individuals, we can have an impact on unequal access to nutritious food.

Key facts about childhood obesity

40%

Nearly 40% of all children in London are overweight or obese

2x

Five-year-olds from the poorest income groups are twice as likely to be obese

11

By age 11, these same children are three times more likely to be obese

How we are addressing childhood obesity

Overview of our programme

We are running a ten-year programme to improve children’s health in urban areas by tackling childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity is a complex global issue. It’s a major challenge in London, which has the highest rates of any global city. It is also a particular issue in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark – where we work – which have some of the highest rates in the country. However, although the issue is complex, we believe solutions don’t have to be.

Our programme is working to change the food environments in places where children and families spend their time, so that eating well is the easiest – not hardest – thing to do.

Finally, we are working in 14 wards in Lambeth and Southwark that are flooded with unhealthy food and have limited places for children to run and play. By targeting areas with unhealthy food environments, we will engage with more than 60,000 children across our boroughs with the aim to reduce the gap in childhood obesity rates between lower-income and more affluent areas by 25%.

 

 

Knowing the incredibly strong link between childhood obesity and income, we set out to understand more about the area and communities living there. We explore characteristics like ethnic background, type of housing, or employment.

The data pointed to higher levels of ethnic diversity in areas with high levels of childhood obesity. This helped us better understand the make-up of the neighbourhoods where we might work.

Partnering with others

Become a partner

We partner with other organisations in order to deliver projects, conduct research and amplify our results.

As food environments are influenced by businesses, government and our own communities, creating change requires working with a wide range of partners. In practice, this means we layer up different activities and work with a range of organisations to test and run projects that can tackle the issue from many angles.

As a result of the clear link between an area’s average income and obesity, we focus our efforts in the areas with lower average incomes, where childhood obesity rates are highest. 

The projects and activities within our programme focus on three areas to make sure children and families can live healthy lives: streets, schools and homes. This means that we work across these different environments in order to make an impact on closing the inequality gap.

We sit on London’s Child Obesity Taskforce to have a part in shaping children’s health across London and beyond. We are also supported by a committee of cross-sector experts who challenge and advise us on how to have the most impact.

Childhood obesity programme approach visualisation

Our impact last year

£4.9m

in funding given to projects addressing childhood obesity

23

different interventions trialled to tackle childhood obesity

47

different places worked in, including 42 schools and early years settings