Today, nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese.1 The Government’s new childhood obesity plan aims to significantly reduce England’s rate of childhood obesity within the next ten years. Here we look at the role health professionals are being asked to play.

The plan asks healthcare professionals to build on the work they already do by always talking to parents about their family’s diet, working towards making it the default to weigh everyone, and referring people to weight management services, clubs and websites if they ask for more advice.

They want health professionals to feel confident discussing nutrition and weight issues with children, families and adults. The Government aims to support this with:

  • A new suite of resources to help ‘Make Every Contact Count’, launched by Health Education England and Public Health England
  • Training on influencing behaviour change and initiating difficult conversations about health and wellbeing
  • Targeted training for health visitors and school nurses to enable them to identify weight issues early on

They will also review content on nutrition and physical activity, healthy weight messaging and weaning advice in materials used for visits by midwives and health visitors to see where it can be strengthened. This is to ensure that all new families get the best advice with a focus on healthy weight. They also plan to explore how healthy weight messaging can be introduced at other contact points, such as through childhood immunisation programmes.

Health Education England has already reviewed and updated existing materials about obesity and nutrition available on their E-learning for Health platform and encourages all those working in the NHS to undertake relevant training as part of their Continuing Professional Development.

How can we support you?

World Cancer Research Fund agrees that health professionals, among others, play a vital role in preventing and reducing obesity. We have a range of training and resources to help health professionals make every contact count and support people to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Training

  • Our online cancer prevention training is suitable for anyone who talks to people about leading a healthy lifestyle. You can complete the training for free as part of our cancer prevention package
  • Our webinar on obesity looks at how to raise the issue of weight
  • We also run free events on cancer prevention and behaviour change. Find out about our next event

Resources

We have a wide range of booklets, factsheets, diaries and recipes to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

References

  1. HM Government. Childhood Obesity A Plan for Action. 2016.