Agenda item

Whole System Approach to Obesity and Physical Activity Participation

Presented By:Karen Coker Jude Taylor Tony Bullock


The purpose of the session was to get approval and support from the HWBB to the direction of travel for the obesity strategy and to debate what we can do differently going forward individually and collectively.




·         Nearly 25% of reception aged children are overweight or obese (2019) (all 8 x districts are above the national average).

·         Nearly 35% of Year 6 children are overweight or obese (2019) (5 x districts above national average).

·         64% of adults (aged 19+) are overweight or obese (2019) (6 x districts above national average).

·         21% of adults (aged 19+) are physically inactive (2019) (5 x districts above national average).


There are a wide range of consequences linked to obesity, both to the individual and to wider society. Whilst obesity has been a priority in many local and national strategies we have not seen a population shift in obesity levels.


Slide 1: Is the current position good enough?


Dr Johnny McMahon (Co-Chair) noted that more folk die now from the effects of overeating than they do of starvation in the World.  We live in an obesogenic society which is why a Whole System place-based approach makes sense. We have got to look at the lives people lead and what we can do to modify behaviour, rather than the individual trying to sort themselves out, which we know doesn’t work.


Dr McMahon also noted that we can rely too much on exercise we need to give more focus to providing people with good healthy nutritious low calorie food as well as providing people with the opportunity to integrate exercise into their day.


Dr Alison Bradley (Co-Chair) agreed that the whole system placed approach is the best approach.


Garry Jones noted the mental health aspects of overeating.


Slide 2: Is taking obesity just an issue for the Public Health teams – or is it genuinely a priority for all?


Tim Clegg noted that the District Councils and SCC, do see this as a priority and welcomed the holistic approach to tackle obesity. To do this we need to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthy choices. There needs to be a culture change in this country and to push back on processed food which manufacturers put in our direction, particularly around fast-food choices which are seen as a treat for families, which doesn’t help in brining children up in making healthy choices. There is a link between health inequalities, poverty and obesity,  more work is needed to understand this more and there must be a concerted effort across the wide range of fronts and we need an honest discussion with partners about what we can do to make a real change.

Dr Alison Bradley (Co-Chair): Challenge of obesity cuts across everything, all our organisations, health and care we all have a part to play in it, it does need to be a priority for all.  


Slide 3: Why have past efforts failed?


Dr Johnny McMahon – In the past we have been judgemental we need to take a more holistic concentrate more on food and less on exercise.  Exercise is beneficial even though you don’t lose any weight.  


Cllr Mark Sutton noted the success of societal approaches like those to stop drink driving.  Currently there are no consequences to overeating or becoming obese.  Cllr Sutton also questioned the link between obesity and poverty, noting that obesity levels in children were high in South Staffordshire, which is an affluent area.


Helen Riley urged a strong focus on starting obesity prevention at an early age.


Slide 4: What are you/we going to do differently?


We will endorse the whole system approach and work together.


Slide 5: Is it an opportunity for the HWBB to show its got teeth?


Slide 6: Definition of Whole System Approach (PHE)


The key message was that we need to be consistent and persistent, this is a long-term approach and not a one off project.


Slide 7: step by step guidance document


There are grounds for optimism. The County Council has already had a Cabinet level discussion and has nominated two senior Champions, John Henderson (Chief Executive) and Dr Johnny McMahon (Cabinet Member). A core working team, has been set up and all 8 Districts have also shown interest. The place based pilots will take place in Cannock, East Staffordshire, and /Staffordshire Moorlands.   


Slide 8: Request


·         HWBB members were asked to invite a member of the Core Working Team to each organisation’s board/senior leadership team meeting to discuss/gain ongoing commitment for the Whole System Approach.

·         Each organisation was asked to identify:

o   A senior/strategic champion, and

o   An operational lead

·         Each organisation was asked to commit to ensuring a healthy workforce.

·         That the HWBB become the system-wide governance lead for the Whole System Approach.


RESOLVED: That the Board agrees the four requests and endorses the agreement to support the whole system approach. An update will be brought to the September HWBB.