Fat is a local issue

Next month, responsibility for managing obesity as a public health problem passes from the Primary Care Trusts to the local authorities (LAs) and the National Obesity Observatory (the NOO, itself undergoing a change, as it will become part of Public Health England from April 1st) has just launched a new online resource to help LAs in this new area of responsibilty. It aims to help them:

  • identify and assess obesity and related issues in their locality
  • understand the social, economic, health and educational impact of obesity
  • work together by outlining how different local authority departments and services (such as planning, transport, leisure, and education), can work synergistically to tackle obesity, led by public health
  • plan and deliver obesity prevention and management strategies and services for their area through the new vehicles of health and wellbeing boards, via joint strategic needs assessments (JSNAs), and joint health and wellbeing strategies.

The NOO points out that obesity is a complex problem that can’t be tackled effectively by one discipline alone. It is felt that LAs, lead by public health colleagues, are ideally placed to develop co-ordinated action to tackle obesity across their departments, services and partner organisations.

The Local Government Association has recently produced a briefing for councillors and officers on the challenges and opportunities around tackling obesity and reducing health inequalities in local communities. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is developing a series of local government public health briefings and has recently issued guidance on physical activity, walking and cycling, behaviour change, and working with local communities. The NOO site web resource is a one-stop shop for these documents and more with sections, for example, on tackling obesity in the context of transport, planning and environment, leisure and culture, parks and green spaces, education and learning, health and social care, housing and workplaces.

You can check it out for yourself here: http://www.noo.org.uk/LA