Tackling obesity means helping children and families adopt healthy eating habits and keep fit.
It is a key priority for Ealing Council and the benefits can be life-changing.
That is why the council leads a partnership of local organisations working to tackle childhood obesity – and on starting good habits as early in life as possible.
In local children’s centres and through the council’s health visiting service, mothers are introduced to the Best Start in Life programme. It works with mums before, during and after pregnancy, promoting breastfeeding (including UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation) and encouraging good nutrition and physical activity.
Youngsters are also more likely to be healthier when they become adults if they adopt these good habits early in life – and school is a great place to start.
Indeed, more than 70 schools have achieved ‘healthy schools’ status through the Healthy Schools London programme.
And more than 54 primary schools in the borough take part in the ‘daily mile’, which gets children out of the classroom for 15 minutes every day to run or jog, at their own pace, with their classmates – encouraging regular exercise and becoming fitter and healthier.
The STARS scheme run by the council’s school travel team works to increase active travel to school by promoting walking and cycling and supports healthy diets through packed lunch policies and encouraging drinking more water rather than fizzy, sweet drinks.
Ealing has also introduced the ‘Sugar Smart’ programme in primary schools, teaching healthy habits early on.
In addition, the council commissions school nurses to deliver the National Child Measurement Programme for reception and year 6 pupils, as well as a child weight management service for families with children aged between five and 13 years of age who are identified as being above a healthy weight and need support to make changes.
In the borough, 22% of reception year pupils in 2017/18 were classified as overweight or obese – rising to 38% in year 6.
But, working with the council’s health improvement team, some schools have shown a marked improvement.
Stanhope Primary School in Greenford, for example, used to have the worst rates in the borough for overweight or obese pupils. In fact, 54% of the children weighed and measured in reception year at Stanhope were once classified as overweight or obese.
Yet those same children, when weighed and measured in later in Year 6, showed a 22% reduction.
Another primary school in Greenford has also seen remarkable results in tackling obesity rise. Nearly every pupil at Selborne Primary School now takes part in some type of sports, with teachers noting considerable improvements in pupils’ behaviour and concentration.
Meanwhile, the council is working to tackle some of the environmental drivers of obesity through business and planning.