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Healthier weight promotion for children: consistent messages - Loretta Sollars and Charlene Mulhern

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: All Our Health, Blogs, Getting it Right for Children and Young People, maternity

We know children who stay a healthy weight and lead a healthy lifestyle tend to be fitter, healthier, have better attendance in school and be more self-confident. Health and care professionals are in a unique position to enable children, young people and families to make positive healthier weight changes and this blog provides information and resources to help you achieve this.

Obesity is associated with poor psychological and emotional health, poor sleep and many children experience bullying linked to their weight. Tackling obesity requires a whole systems approach and action needs to be taken across the child life course. This is essential if we are going to have an impact on childhood obesity and enable positive behaviour change in relation to eating and activity.

Health and care professionals have a crucial role in enabling children and families to take action and should receive training in nutrition, physical activity and obesity to enable them to appropriately advise and confidently engage with children, young people and families as well as inspire behavioural change. These conversations can;

  • improve public awareness of a healthier weight and;
  • may also influence the general population to tackle excess weight and reduce drivers of excess calorie intake and sedentary lifestyles.

One of the key challenges health and care professionals face is keeping up to date with these evidence based messages. We have spoken to a range of health and care professionals who have requested a need for simple, evidenced base guidelines and training through various formats to enable them to utilise opportunistic moments to raise the topic of a healthier weight sensitively.

As a result, PHE has developed a suite of resources to support health and care professionals to utilise their skills by raising awareness and motivating children, young people and families to achieve or maintain a healthier weight. Each resource uses different formats to bring together the latest key evidence-based healthier weight messages for specific age or target groups. These resources support PHE’s All Our Health ‘call to action’ for health and care professionals and include;

  1. A Childhood obesity animation

2. Detailed slides sets developed as a training tool to inform workforce development and includes links to a range of useful free resources including e-learning and guidance documents. Slide sets focus on skills and core messages to support brief conversations and include:

3. Six engaging infographics which professionals can use in practice.

The intention of these infographics is to support professionals in practice to be consistent and deliver a core set of healthy weight messages. Infographics developed include core messages to promote a healthier weight from; preconception; during pregnancy; birth to six months; six months to aged four; school aged children (five to aged eighteen) and for parents and carers.

Obesity is a complex problem and there is no single solution. Tackling and preventing childhood obesity involves a broad range of actions involving stakeholders from across the system. Whilst health and care professionals are the key audience for these resources, they can be utilised by the wider public health workforce.

Loretta Sollars is Childhood Obesity Programme Manager for Children, Young People and Families at Public Health England

Charlene Mulhern is Childhood Obesity Public Health Workforce Delivery Manager for Children, Young People and Families at Public Health England


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