Perspectives and experiences of intersectoral systems-based approaches to childhood obesity prevention

Tuesday 4 September 2018 (09:00-16:30)

If you are interested in participating in this workshop please email Peymané Adab.


WORKSHOP LEADER - Prof Peymané Adab, Institute of Applied Health Research

Agenda now available to download.

Childhood obesity is a growing problem worldwide. In the UK, during the primary school period, from the age of 4 to 11 years, the proportion of children who are very overweight doubles (rising from 10% to 20%). This increasing trend continues to adulthood, but the steepest increase occurs during childhood. Furthermore, during this period inequalities emerge. At school entry there is little difference in the likelihood of being overweight between groups. However by age 11, children from minority ethnic groups and those from more deprived, compared to more affluent backgrounds are more likely to be overweight. Obesity in children is linked with multiple health, emotional and social problems.  However, so far approaches for preventing the rising trend have had minimal success.

Prof Peymané and her team have recently completed a major school based trial of childhood obesity prevention in the UK (the WAVES study), are completing a trial to evaluate a physical activity intervention in schools (the Daily Mile programme), and also a trial of a programme in China. Recently published findings from the WAVES study showed that school based programmes are unlikely to impact on preventing obesity on their own. The findings were similar to those from two other large UK studies, all showing that well designed rigorous trials of a range of school based programmes targeting diet and physical activity, demonstrate no reduction in obesity rates.

There is growing interest in community based interventions and systems wide approaches to obesity prevention. The systems approach is based on principles of engineering, recognising that complex health problems, such as obesity, require levers to operate at multiple points within the interconnected components of the system (e.g. different levels of the environment and different agencies) to have an effect. However, this is a relatively new area of research. This workshop aims to bring together a wider group of researchers from The University of Birmingham and related non-academic partners, to expand the current research programme, and to develop new research that builds on the current expertise.