From October, local authorities will be encouraged to submit proposals for a new Trailblazer programme to tackle childhood obesity, in a partnership between the Department of Health and the Local Government Association. Children's Food Campaign welcomes the initiative, but says it will need to be scaled up for systemic change.
Public health minister Steve Brine has announced that the Trailblazer programme will launch in October 2018, with the aim of supporting local authorities to exercise their powers to reduce the obesogenic environment for children.
The new programme is one of the measures flagged in the Childhood Obesity Plan of Action Chapter Two, and will be a joint initiative between the government's Department of Health and Social Care and the Local Government Association. It will provide support for three years to local authorities developing innovative action to tackle child obesity, in particular addressing health inequalities as well as using local planning powers to create a healthier food environment for all children.
In the first phase starting in October 2018, support will be available for 12 local authorities, with a further 5 to follow in Spring 2019, and continue for three years.
Responding to the announcement, Children's Food Campaign co-ordinator Barbara Crowther says,
We welcome the start of this initiative to power up the role of local authorities in tackling childhood obesity, especially given recent evidence that local spending on public health has been declining. Local authorities have a vital leadership role to play, whether that is in using planning regulations to reduce the spread of unhealthy takeaways, or shifting advertising in public spaces away from junk food, or innovative programmes to reduce health inequalities locally, as we have seen through our Sustainable Food Cities network, and campaigns such as Sugar Smart and Veg Cities.
However, we hope that the initial phase of support announced today will swiftly be scaled up into a much more ambitious nationwide effort involving many more local authorities in a systemic effort to make healthy food environment for our children the norm in our local communities.
For more information:
Read the government announcement "Local authorities supported to innovate against childhood obesity"
Children's Food Campaign
Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.
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