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3. Promote and enable good nutrition, physical activity and a healthy weight through the life-course

Why is this important?

Physical inactivity and excess weight are major threats to population health locally and nationally. Obese children and young people are more likely to be ill and therefore absent from school, more likely to have tooth decay, more likely to experience bullying and poor mental health problems such as low self-esteem, and are at higher risk of becoming an obese adult. Obesity-related disorders, and complications such as diabetes, increase the time people live in poor health and reduce their life expectancy. They also place a huge economic burden on health and social care services, and the wider economy; for instance diabetes alone accounts for 10% of the NHS annual spend.

Being physically active and a healthy weight have short-term benefits such as improved mental wellbeing and longer-term benefits by reducing the risk of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, and can improve overall quality of life.

There are other issues related to food and nutrition which are important for South Gloucestershire. In infancy good nutrition through breastfeeding reduces the risk of babies acquiring a range of conditions including gastro-intestinal and respiratory infections, as well as becoming obese in childhood and later life.  Malnutrition and inadequate hydration are key areas of concern, particularly amongst the older population where malnutrition is often under-recognised and under-treated. Food banks in South Gloucestershire report usage is increasing and that common reasons for seeking help include low pay and debt.

Barriers to healthier eating include food literacy (shopping and cooking), information, access and availability. Lack of time, injury or illness and lack of motivation are barriers to physical activity.

What are the challenges?

  • Only 14% of 15-year-olds in South Gloucestershire are physically active for at least one hour per day seven days a week and in a local school survey two thirds felt they didn’t always do enough exercise to keep them healthy.
  • Children and young people (key stage 2-4) report they are physically active for an average of 4 hours and 37 minutes per week. This is accepted as a significant cause for action.
  • One in four of the adult population (25.5%) are classed as physically inactive, defined by failing to achieve 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity (such as a brisk walk) per week. Over recent years the proportion of inactive adults has increased, contrasting with a decline nationally.
  • The prevalence of excess weight (overweight and very overweight) reception children is 17.2% and in year 6 is 28.7%. This means by the age of 11 over a quarter of children weigh more than is healthy for them. Prevalence is significantly higher in our priority neighbourhoods.
  • Almost two thirds of adults (63.2%) in South Gloucestershire are either overweight or obese.
  • Two in five (38%) residents indicate they feel a supportive built environment where physical activity is encouraged would make a big impact on getting people to become more active.
  • In 2014, 55% of adults in South Gloucestershire ate the recommended ‘5 a day’, lower than the South West average of 58.7% and higher than the England average of 53.5%.
  • In 2014/15, the breastfeeding initiation rate in South Gloucestershire was 77.1%, higher than the England average of 74.3% but lower than the South West average of 79.0%. There has been little change in the initiation rate over time. At 6-8 weeks, the breastfeeding rate was 47.8%.

What do we want to achieve?

We want more children, young people and adults to be active, eat well and to sustain a healthy weight. We want the healthier choice to be the easier choice in South Gloucestershire and for all of our partners and communities to be committed to working together to create a culture and environment that supports eating well and being physically active.

How will the Health and Wellbeing Board take action?

Delivery of this area for collective action will be through:

  • The Health and Wellbeing Board acting as a systems leader and advocating for actions that promote and enable good nutrition, physical activity and a healthy weight for all.
  • Holding the Physical Activity Partnership to account to deliver the Physical Activity Strategy 2015-20.
  • Holding South Gloucestershire’s Healthy Weight Group to account to deliver the Healthy Weight & Obesity Strategy 2014-20.
  • Holding the Food Plan Steering Group to account to deliver the Food Plan 2018-2021.

The Health and Wellbeing Board will:

  1. Act as a champion for, and work to influence decision-making, to ensure availability of good food in public places and the use and development of environments that promote physical activity.
  2. Hold a series of conversations with our local communities (including residents, early years settings, schools, colleges, health and care organisations, the voluntary and community sector, and local businesses) about how we can get more children, young people and adults active and eating better. Develop and implement actions based on this research.
  3. Commit to continued investment in evidence-based programmes that promote breastfeeding and build skills in relation to families eating well and being more active.
  4. Promote the use of evidence-based interventions for weight management in children, young people and adults, with a particular focus on priority groups including children under 11 years, women before and during pregnancy, and those with pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Action taken on the other areas of focus will also support getting more people active, eating well, and a healthy weight.  

How will we measure our success?

  • Breastfeeding initiation and prevalence at 6-8 weeks
  • Proportion of children in reception (aged 4-5 years) and Year 6 (10 to 11-year-olds) classified as overweight or very overweight in the National Child Measurement Programme
  • Proportion of children and young people who are physically active
  • Free school meal uptake
  • Proportion of adults who are physically active
  • Excess weight in adults
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption