Addressing childhood obesity through city-level interventions

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With childhood obesity numbers nearly doubling every 10 years, it is clear that current actions are insufficient.

Traditionally, interventions were focused on individual health determinants. However, evidence now supports to need to consider the role and influence of social, physical and commercial environments in which children live.

Today, over 50% of the world’s population live in cities, a number expected to increase to close to 70% in the next 20 years Cities are gaining increased attention as a focal intervention setting as they offer an opportunity to reach a large proportion of the population, including children, adolescents and their families. The majority of the world’s population live in cities, making urban areas an ideal intervention setting to promote and safeguard the health of all children and adolescents.

Drawing on a range of case studies, our new briefing identifies some of the barriers and enablers to ensure that city-level interventions adequately protect everyone’s health and children as a vulnerable group, and identify opportunities to include childhood obesity in existing health-promoting city-level interventions.


Barriers

Enablers

Interventions cannot be generalised

Participatory process to the development of interventions

Lack of available resources and adequate training

Interventions need strong community partnerships and engagement with diverse stakeholders

Lack of support from local authorities

Simple actions and clear messaging

Lack of strong and reliable local data

Understand the local ‘culture of obesity’

Influence of commercial determinants of health and conflicts of interest

Political commitment and local leadership


Based on a series of case studies and the identification of some of the key implementation barriers and enablers, we have identified the following considerations to support the successful implementation of childhood obesity oriented city-level interventions:

  • Conduct a situational analysis to get an understanding of available local resources, especially in vulnerable communities.
  • Integrate these interventions within broader health initiatives.
  • Understand the specific community’s readiness to change as well as its cultural context.
  • Develop strong evaluation frameworks.
  • Consider the sustainability of how interventions will be maintained over a long period of time.
  • Build coalitions and engage all stakeholders, while ensuring safeguard processes are in place for conflicts of interest.
  • Enable community participation.
  • Ensure political engagement.
  • City leaders need to define a multi-sectoral action plan which must be the result of multi-stakeholder engagement.
  • Empower youth voices to avoid marginalising and excluding them from interventions that will impact on their everyday lives.
 

Download our new policy brief

Addressing childhood obesity through city-level interventions

Policy brief analysing and calling for action to address CHO via city level interventions.

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