Aerial view of children's dinner plates

Childhood obesity programme strands

Tackling childhood obesity in homes, schools and streets

We support projects that promote healthy food and exercise in one or several of these places where children and families spend their time.

We have developed a model for our programme which is underpinned by three strands: homes, schools and streets. It is based on local evidence, as well as national and international learning from other urban areas.

Mother feeding her baby
Family preparing lunch together in the kitchen

Homes

Homes and early years settings are where most children take their first steps into the world of food and exercise. These are an important space for establishing food preferences and habits, and have a long-lasting impact on a child’s health.

With this understanding, we focus on homes to impact health early in a child’s life.

 

How we tackle childhood obesity in homes

Through our homes strand, we aim to support healthy food at home for all children, regardless of where they live. We focus on a few areas, including:

  • Supporting mothers and babies from pregnancy through to two years old, to encourage the healthy development of maternal weight gain, breastfeeding, weaning and early feeding.
  • Working with early years settings to promote opportunities for all children to eat healthily and play
  • Making more healthy and affordable food options available to families at home
School breakfast being handed to student
Young children smiling and putting their thumbs up for the camera

Schools

Schools play a key role in helping to reduce childhood obesity.

Primary and secondary schools have a significant impact on children’s health and weight. In the UK, they often have control over at least one meal per day for the children in their care. In our boroughs, many schools serve their pupils two meals a day – especially for children whose families are less affluent.

Schools are also often well connected in their community and have strong links with local families. As such, schools are a space with a significant opportunity to ensure all children can have healthy, nutritious meals and opportunities to move and play.

 

How we tackle childhood obesity in schools

Through our schools strand, we and our partners support the take-up of healthy and nutritious food options throughout the school day. We also work to improve the quality and quantity of play and physical activity in local schools. Our areas of focus include:

  • Supporting schools to comply with food standards for all meals and snacks on site
  • Working closely with local councils and catering firms to improve the food offer in schools
  • Co-designing healthier school environments with children and staff
Shopping basket filled with products
Advert for fried chicken next to pram

Streets

The design and make-up of public spaces has a strong impact on what we eat and how much we move.

The moment families and children step outside, they are flooded by invitations and incentives that encourage unhealthy food options. This is amplified in inner-city high streets.

We look at streets in the whole, as a narrow focus on only one element (for example, fast food outlets) is likely to only tackle part of the problem. Our work aims to reduce the availability and prominence of energy-dense food and drinks in the entire food environment.

 

How we tackle childhood obesity in streets

Through our streets strand, we work with partners to change the spaces where children and families spend time outside of home and school – from food shops and takeaways to parks, playgrounds and active travel. Our areas of focus include:

  • Redesigning food environments like shops and other food outlets so that all families have access to healthy options
  • Developing new healthy products or reformulating existing ones to create healthier, affordable options
  • Exploring ways to make healthier options more affordable and convenient than unhealthy options
  • Increasing opportunities for all children to run, play and explore, no matter where they live