Time to solve childhood obesity

Time to solve childhood obesity: an independent report by the Chief Medical Officer | The Department of Health and Social Care

The Chief Medical Officer calls for action across industry and the public sector to help the government reach its target of halving childhood obesity by 2030.  It sets out a range of recommendations for the government, which are supported by 10 principles, and builds on the work the government has already done.

Full report: Time to Solve Childhood Obesity. An Independent Report by the Chief  Medical Officer,  Professor Dame Sally Davies | 2019

Healthier weight conversations: support for professionals

Public Health England | September 2019| Healthier weight conversations: support for professionals

New guidance from Public Health England (PHE), co-produced with other organisations, outlines the shared commitment of professional organisations working together to support the public health workforce to have healthier weight conversations.

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The guidance describes the intent of professional organisations to work together, support and enable the public health workforce to have healthier weight conversations and maximise population behaviour change, helping individuals and communities significantly reduce their risk of obesity, in order to support the national ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030.

PHE Supporting professionals to have healthier weight conversations: consensus statement

Routing out childhood obesity

Royal Society for Public Health | September 2019  | Routing out childhood obesity

Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity have  produced Routing out childhood obesity a report that outlines a outlines a range of recommendations for transforming the street environment, particularly around schools, with the ambition that all children should have access to a healthy route home.

 

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Researchers aimed to combine street-level mapping and fieldwork with first-hand insight from children throughout Lambeth and Southwark, in order to paint a picture of the key street-based influences on diet and activity experienced by a child over the course of an ordinary day.
Key messages of the publication:
  • People’s lived experience of their neighbourhood has an important impact on how they differentially interact with features of their environment.
  • There is often a crucial window of exposure to obesogenic environments for children during their daily routes to and from school, which can have a substantial impact on food consumption.
  • Unhealthy fast food outlets have in some cases become de facto extensions of the school environment. This often isn’t driven by a desire for food but by a lack of other appropriate, safe, affordable and socially acceptable spaces for young people after school
  • Positive food environments in the school and home can easily be undermined during the post-school period.
  • Advertising exposure and tailored marketing has a large influence on driving young people to consume more.
  • More attention must be paid to the needs of teenagers in the design of green space, with youth-led initiatives to address the lack of age-appropriate equipment in many parks (Source: Royal Society of Public Health)

Supermarkets need to ‘nudge’ customers to make healthier choices, says Royal Society for Public Health

Royal Society for Public Health | July 2019 | New RSPH report: Health on the Shelf

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is calling on supermarkets to play a bigger part in ‘nudging’ customers to make healthier choices in its new report Health on the Shelf

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Image source: rsph.org.uk

The report explores the public’s perception of supermarkets and the marketing strategies retailers use to boost sales. It also showcases how supermarkets can be health promoting spaces for customers. The reports outlines how:

  • 1 in 3 of us make unhealthy impulse purchases if they are on special offer at the supermarket
  • Almost 90% of products positioned on shelves at children’s eye level were found to be unhealthy
  • By 2050 obesity is predicted to rise by 73% to 26 million
  • 50 % of those polled believe there are more unhealthy
    products on supermarket shelves than healthy products

A panel of experts in public health, nutrition, diet, weight management, consumer insights and retail, were invited to discuss what a healthy supermarket
could look like and how supermarkets could be more effective in nudging people towards healthier behaviour. The panel discussed every element of the
supermarket experience, from layout, understanding the shopper, promotions and price.

In addition Slimming World polled over 2000 members of the public and 2000 Slimming World members to hear their views on how supermarkets are contributing to the obesity
epidemic and how they could do more to help people live healthier lives.

“The environment in which we live is a major contributor towards obesity, and supermarkets have both the power and influence as well as a responsibility in tackling their contribution to this “obesogenic” environment. There has been some progress by supermarkets in areas such as removing junk from check outs, but our research shows that shoppers and industry experts feel there is much more supermarkets can and should do to promote healthier choices.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH

In its report the RSPH makes a number of recommendations for retailers and the government (Source: RSPH).

Press release from RSPH 

Health on the Shelf

Whole systems approach to obesity

This edition of Health Matters focuses on Public Health England’s Whole systems approach to obesity guide, which is designed to support local action on addressing obesity and promoting a healthy weight.

This guide and set of resources can be used to support the implementation of a whole systems approach to obesity.  It is intended for local authorities and partners, including the NHS, local businesses and the community and voluntary sector.

The guide covers:

  • the role of local authorities
  • the benefits of taking a whole systems approach
  • the 6-phase process – each phase provides practical support

Each phase has accompanying resources. Included with the guide is a separate ‘learning report’, explaining the findings of the co-production and testing of the guide with local authorities.

Full detail: Whole systems approach to obesity | Public Health England

Excess weight and cancer risk

New figures from Cancer Research UK show that people who are obese now outnumber people who smoke two to one in the UK, and excess weight causes more cases of certain cancers than smoking.

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Almost a third of UK adults are obese and, while smoking is still the nation’s biggest preventable cause of cancer and carries a much higher risk of the disease than obesity, Cancer Research UK’s analysis revealed that being overweight or obese trumps smoking as the leading cause of four different types of cancer.

Excess weight causes around 1,900 more cases of bowel cancer than smoking in the UK each year. The same worrying pattern is true of cancer in the kidneys (1,400 more cases caused by excess weight than by smoking each year in the UK), ovaries (460) and liver (180).

The charity wants the Government to act on its ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030 and introduce a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts on TV and online, alongside other measures such as restricting promotional offers on unhealthy food and drinks.

Full story: Obese people outnumber smokers two to one| Cancer Research UK

See also: Obesity ’causes more cases of some cancers than smoking’ | BBC News

Children of obese mums at higher diabetes risk

University of Edinburgh | June 2019 |Children of obese mums at higher diabetes risk

New research indicates that babies who are born to mothers with obesity have a higher risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes in later life. The study also reports that being overweight in pregnancy also increases the child’s diabetes risk by a half. 

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The experts behind the research analysed data from the birth records of 100000 children born in Aberdeen during 1950 and 2011 and linked them with the national register for diagnosed diabetes in Scotland. Figures revealed around one quarter of women were overweight during pregnancy over the 60-year period. One in ten were obese, with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40.

Offspring whom mums were overweight or obese during pregnancy had an associated risk factor of between 1.4 and 3.5-fold increased incidence.

The study indicates that the proportion of obese mothers increased five-fold from around one in 30 during the 1950s to almost one in six between 2000 and 201 (Source: University of Edinburgh)

Read press release in full from University of Edinburgh

Journal article Consequences of being overweight or obese during pregnancy on diabetes in the offspring: a record linkage study in Aberdeen, Scotland

Full reference: Lahti-Pulkkinen, et al. | 2019| Consequences of being overweight or obese during pregnancy on diabetes in the offspring: a record linkage study in Aberdeen, Scotland| Diabetologia| 1-8.

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

Maternal obesity in pregnancy is associated with cardiovascular disease and mortality rate in the offspring. We aimed to determine whether maternal obesity is also associated with increased incidence of type 2 and type 1 diabetes in the offspring, independently of maternal diabetes as a candidate mechanistic pathway.

 

Methods

Birth records of 118,201 children from 1950 to 2011 in the Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank were linked to Scottish Care Information–Diabetes, the national register for diagnosed diabetes in Scotland, to identify incident and prevalent type 1 and type 2 diabetes up to 1 January 2012. Maternal BMI was calculated from height and weight measured at the first antenatal visit. The effect of maternal obesity on offspring outcomes was tested using time-to-event analysis with Cox proportional hazards regression to compare outcomes in offspring of mothers in underweight, overweight or obese categories of BMI, compared with offspring of women with normal BMI.

 

Results

Offspring of obese (BMI more than or equal to 30 kg/m2) and overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) mothers had an increased hazard of type 2 diabetes compared with mothers with normal BMI, after adjustment for gestation when weight was measured, maternal history of diabetes before pregnancy, maternal history of hypertension, age at delivery, parity, socioeconomic status, and sex of the offspring: HR 3.48 (95% CI 2.33, 5.06) and HR 1.39 (1.06, 1.83), respectively.

 

Conclusions/interpretation

Maternal obesity is associated with increased incidence of type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Evidence-based strategies that reduce obesity among women of reproductive age and that might reduce the incidence of diabetes in their offspring are urgently required.