In recent articles on the BBC and The Guardian, fingers are pointed towards lack of urgency and bold action, restructure, funding cuts to the areas that need it most, and a lack of coordination across departments as being key reasons for this failure to progress towards these important targets. They also make the important point that deprivation levels and obesity levels are directly linked, and Dr Layla McKay from the NHS Confederation says; “as ever, the communities that need these services most are those that have faced the most severe cuts”.
Having worked in public health with a specific focus on obesity for the past 15 years, it is entirely unsurprising that government are not on course to halve, or even reduce, childhood obesity by 2030.
Public Health has had over £700million cut from it in the last few years, decimating not only finance for providers of services like BeeZee Families to support people with their weight, but also Local Authority and National Teams to ensure national and local investment in a whole systems approach, including regulation, legislation and other upstream measures to prevent obesity.
At this critical moment, Government needs to be brave, bold and decisive, and invest in long-term strategies to alter the obesogenic environment across the whole system. Since Foresight was released in 2007 (and long before), we have known that obesity is a complex and deeply interconnected issue that will not be solved with diet clubs and telling people to be more active.
It is clear that creating physical and social environments where healthy choices are the easy choice, (or remove the unhealthy choice altogether), are what government should be firmly fixated on, and working towards.
BeeZee Bodies are working hard in the regions in which we operate (Hertfordshire, Gloucestershire and Brighton & Hove) to forge relationships with other organisations, companies and individuals operating with similar objectives to us, to support the local councils in developing a whole systems approach locally.