Healthy Weight Declaration
Councillor Bernadette Parkinson introduced a report of Councillor Jenny Molineux, Chair of the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which included recommendations which fell within the remit of the Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Wellbeing. The report provided information on the Council’s current actions which supported obesity prevention and the Healthy Weight Declaration and a recommend a course of action.
Councillor B Parkinson highlighted the recommendations of the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee of 8th September 2021 regarding childhood obesity and the Healthy Weight Declaration. Obesity was a growing concern. Hyndburn was above the national average with some 22.8% of 10-11 year olds obese. This was the highest rate in Pennine Lancashire. Work was ongoing under the Healthier Place Heathier Future Programme to improve the situation across East Lancashire authorities. Although Hyndburn Borough Council was not the lead authority for health in the locality it did have a role to play in its policies which affected the wider determinants of health.
Covid-19 had brought some additional pressure on local authorities and it would be difficult at this time to meet all of the core commitments of the Healthy Weight Declaration within existing resources. Accordingly, a more realistic set of actions had been proposed.
Councillors Britcliffe and Dad both spoke in favour of the proposals and respectively highlighted the importance of education and warned of the negative effects of overreliance on takeaways.
Approval of the report was not deemed a key decision.
Reasons for Decision
Obesity was increasing, with a rise in obesity prevalence in the UK from 15% in 1993 to 29% in 2017). Nearly two thirds of adults in England were overweight or obese (64%), (Public Health England, 2017)
There was no single cause of being overweight and obesity, it was down to a multitude of factors, including (but not limited to) access to healthy food; proximity to fast food outlets; advertising and marketing of unhealthy, calorie dense food and drink; and opportunities for physical activity. Therefore, healthy weight needed to be ‘everybody’s business,’ and all local government departments had a role to play. Having strong support across portfolios and wards could help to drive change, ensuring that healthy weight was considered in all policies and practice.
Locally, healthy weight was a growing concern in Hyndburn:
- The prevalence of childhood obesity in Hyndburn was greater than the national average, with 22.8% of children aged 10-11 in the district classified as obese. This was the highest prevalence across Pennine Lancashire.
- Hyndburn was one of the 10% most deprived districts/unitary authorities in England, which was significantly associated with being overweight and obesity. Furthermore, about 19% (3,300) of children lived in low income families, which was also a risk factor for poor health outcomes.
- Physical inactivity directly contributed to 1 in 6 deaths, and around a quarter of the population was inactive and 45% of women and 33% of men were not active enough to benefit their health.
- Diet-related ill health in the UK was estimated to lead to approximately 70,000 premature deaths annually, which represented around 12 per cent of the total number of deaths.
- Evidence showed that poor diet had the highest impact on the NHS budget, costing around £6 billion per year. An unhealthy diet was strongly associated and causally linked with a number of chronic, complex conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and type II diabetes.
- Those with obesity were at greater risk of poor outcomes relating to Covid-19.
Healthier Places Healthier Future Trailblazer
Across Pennine Lancashire, local authorities had been asked to support the delivery of the Healthier Place Healthier Future Trailblazer programme, to adopt the Healthy Weight Declaration and look at creating some local commitments. It had already been adopted by Blackburn with DarwenBorough Council, Lancashire County Council and Pendle Borough Council.
The Declaration had been produced by Food Active, a healthy weight programme originally commissioned by local authority public health teams, NHS organisations, and Public Health England teams at both regional and national level. It had been approved by the North West Regional Association of Directors of Public Health, British Dental Association, Children’s Food Campaign and the UK Health Forum.
Hyndburn – Healthy Weight Declaration
A local authority signing up to the Declaration signalled a strategic commitment made across all council departments to: reduce unhealthy weight in local communities; protect the health and wellbeing of staff and citizens; and to make an economic impact on health, social care and the local economy.
Adoption of the Declaration provided an opportunity for local authorities to lead local action and demonstrate good practice in adopting a systems approach to healthy weight.
The Declaration included 16 standard commitments whereby local authorities pledged to achieve action on improving policy and healthy weight outcomes in relation to specific areas of the council’s work. Within the Declaration there was also the opportunity for local authorities to add local commitments relevant to their community health needs and priorities.
The Policy Team had undertaken a review of the Council’s current activity and how this could link to the 16 core commitments in the Healthy Weight Declaration. Full details of their assessment was set out in a table within the Cabinet report.
The table showed that the Council already addressed many of the core commitments as part of its usual business. However, the Covid-19 pandemic had brought increasing pressures on many Council departments. It would therefore be difficult to meet the remaining core commitments within existing resources.
Therefore, the Policy Team had consulted with Corporate Management Team (CMT) to ascertain their views.
CMT had recognised the importance of reducing obesity in Hyndburn, and highlighted the many actions the Council already undertook to do this. However, they were concerned that signing the Healthy Weight Declaration would commit the Council to undertaking action on the 16 core commitments, several of which the Council did not have the current capacity to undertake. The Scrutiny Committee shared these concerns, and had agreed that the Council should only sign the Healthy Weight Declaration if it had the capacity to deliver, which, due to increased workload on many Council departments due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it did not.
The Council could still demonstrate its commitment to healthy weights without signing the Declaration, by agreeing to commit to the actions proposed in the report.
Alternative Options considered and Reasons for Rejection
Cabinet should sign the Healthy Weight Declaration – this was rejected as there was no current officer capacity to deliver on some of the core commitments of the Healthy Weight Declaration.
Resolved - That Cabinet agrees to:
(1) Support the principles of the Healthy Weight Declaration and Lancashire County Council’s commitment as the upper tier authority responsible for Public Health in Hyndburn:
(2) Show its commitment to reducing obesity in Hyndburn by maintaining the actions detailed below:
• Support action at national level to help local authorities promote healthy weight and reduce health inequalities in our communities by promoting national healthy weight campaign messages through our social media channels.
• Maintain supplementary planning guidance for hot food takeaways around schools, with a restriction zone of 400m radius around all schools in the Borough. New hot food takeaways will not be supported within these areas, except when located in a defined town or local centre, or controls on the hours of operation are implemented to help reduce the likelihood of young people visiting.
• Use planning policy where possible to support health and wellbeing and create development that encourages physical activity and active travel.
• Continue our approach to enabling and promoting active travel for staff and visitors whilst providing staff with opportunities to be physically active through the promoting of stair use, cycle to work scheme and subsidised leisure access.
• Encourage partners who operate catering from Council owned buildings to offer healthy options.
• Through our work with partners notably Hyndburn Leisure, encourage residents to be physically active through use of leisure facilities and outdoor spaces.
(3) Review Officer capacity in 6 months-time, and consider then whether resources are available for the Council to sign the Healthy Weight Declaration and carry out the 16 core commitments.
- Healthy Weight Declaration - Main Report, item 159. PDF 303 KB
- Healthy Weight Declaration - Customer First Analysis, item 159. PDF 209 KB