Healthy Lifestyles and Childhood Obesity - Penny Greenwood

Childhood obesity is a key public health priority and a significant contemporary health concern; it is one of the leading preventable causes of death and associated long term health risks.

Today, nearly a third of children aged two to 15 are overweight or obese (Childhood obesity: a plan for action, DH 22017) and it’s increasingly affecting children at a younger age who are staying obese for longer. Reducing obesity levels will save lives as it doubles the risk of dying prematurely.

Tackling the issue is complex and the most effective interventions are multi component, holistic and involve the whole family. These can and do make a difference to the health and wellbeing of school-aged children and those working with children and young people recognise how by working with them they can support behaviour change and improve life chances.

School nurses lead the healthy child programme supporting children, young people and families facing both challenges and opportunities. They are well placed to work with these groups to tackle obesity and promote healthy lifestyles.

Clearly school nurses are skilled in working with children and young people, seeing them as assets in their communities, playing an important role in early intervention and prevention and making a real difference by creating a climate for change.

Using evidenced based techniques and their universal contacts, school nurses are able to provide early identification, support health promotion and change management around healthy lifestyles. All too often practitioners are using really creative approaches but don’t have the opportunity to share and learn.

So in March this year, Public Health England (PHE) and the Burdett Trust for Nursing hosted a symposium; ‘State of The Nation: Maternal and Childhood Obesity’.  Attendees included school nurses and other key partners well placed to tackle childhood obesity.

We wanted delegates to promote an evidenced based approach on tackling obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles, from conception to adulthood, while addressing key priorities in terms of child and maternal health.

The event heard how PHE continues to develop the evidence base through ‘All Our Health’, which is a call to action to healthcare professionals working with patients and the population to prevent illness, protect health and promote wellbeing.

We heard how reviewing childhood obesity from a life course approach can provide an opportunity to establish where professions can work together and where they can provide strong leadership.

The examples of good practice and innovate approaches from the obesity event really were inspirational. One of the highlights was Harrison’s Journey, read his blog to discover more!

ablish where professional could work together and where they could provide strong leadership. The examples of good practice and innovate approaches really were inspirational; probably the highlights were – Harrisons Journey, read his blog to discover more!

Penny Greenwood is Associate Lead Nurse for Children, Young People and Families at Public Health England

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  1. Comment by Bernadette wood posted on

    At two years it is possible to spot this first onset of increased BMI and initiate preventative work and education on portion size, outdoor activity and sugar swaps which can reverse the trend to increasing weight.
    Sadly public health in my locality is looking to reduce the HCP provision at two and the universal child growth and dietary element at that review may be discontinued. It also concerns me that government obesity policy does not include promotion of and support for Breastfeeding. Neither is there consideration of the importance of breastfeeding in government legisative policy planning and process.


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