To receive an update from Martin Sterio, Health and Physical Activity Officer on the healthy weights project.
Martin Sterio, Health and Physical Activity Officer, attended the meeting to give a presentation on the Council’s Healthy Weights Project.
An initial update on healthy weights had been provided to Members of the Leisure and Youth Panel in 2016. The initiative had developed on the back of obesity figures reported in 2016 which showed high levels of obesity in young people across the Borough. A healthy weights audit had been carried out in all schools in the Borough and the findings had showed that 1 in 4 infant school children had been recorded as being overweight; this had risen to 1 in 3 at the end of Year 6. The audit reported that deprivation had been a main factor within communities and infrastructure improvements would have a positive impact on residents’ health. The infrastructure in the catchment area of each school had been looked at in detail and information had been provided on proximity to green space, sports facilities, takeaways, access to swimming pools etc. to get a clear understanding for each school.
It was noted that Public Health Hampshire, the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), local schools, community champions and sports partners had formed a Local Action Group (LAG) to focus on key themes identified in the audit. These included the physical infrastructure, physical activities and healthy eating environments and education. A number of initiatives had since been delivered, these included:
· Junior Park Run
· Park Run
· Couch to 2k family programme
· Promotion of leisure facilities and green spaces,
· The daily mile in schools - 25 schools now involved up from 8 initially
· School travel schemes
· Improved healthy menus in schools
· Balance and ride scheme in infants schools Year R and Year 1
· Moor Road playing fields improvement - new playground/sports facilities in one of the Boroughs most deprived areas
It was realised however, that one-time events wouldn’t change things long term, so therefore a Whole System Approach Steering Group had been established with partners to ensure healthy lifestyles were maintained long term. Themed action registers would be created to change systems that would lead to long term goal achievements.
The issue of obesity was a long term challenge with no single element to address it that would alter the situation in the longer term. It was considered that many things needed to change to slowly make a difference over time.
In response to a query regarding deprivation and it’s definition, it was explained that Rushmoor had several areas that were considered “lower super output areas” this was determined on a number of domains including educational attainment, employment and skills, income by household. Areas were scored nationally against certain criteria and, within Rushmoor, several areas had been scored in the top worse 20% in the country on the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).
Following a discussion regarding school lunches and packed lunches it was noted that the majority of younger school children had school lunches and as they got older, switched to packed lunches. Improvements had been made over the past six months to the school dinner offer making the offer more healthy. It was noted that all schools had a packed lunch policy but some schools monitored pack lunches more strictly than others.
Weighing of Year R and Year 6 children was also discussed. It was noted that the percentage of those that opted out was not known, but the Committee was advised that 24% of the Year R pupils that were weighed were classed as obese and this figure rose to 33% in Year 6. The data on weights was released every two years and figures would be due later in 2020. Any impacts of COVID-19 would show in these figures.
In response to a query, it was advised that, following the balance and ride scheme, schools had advised parent on safe routes to schools to encourage pupils to ride to school. Unfortunately, parents still had a fear of road safety and vehicle movements and felt it unsafe for their children to ride to school.
A discussion was held on how the Council could influence/educate parents/households to lead healthier lifestyles. This was considered a difficult area to tackle, but the LAG were considering targeting pre-school families to try and influence, from an early age, healthier lifestyles. It was suggested that cookery skills could be taught to parents to help address the issue.
The Committee was advised that in the future the audit that was completed by all schools at the beginning of the process would be re-circulated to gain comparable data on how the initiatives were having an impact.
The Chairman thanked Mr. Sterio for his presentation and the work of the Local Action Group was ENDORSED.