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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 42, Issue 6
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently developing new public health guidance on community-wide action to help prevent obesity. Draft recommendations have been published on the NICE for public consultation. Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE said: “Obesity not only increases the risk of serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, but dealing with the long term consequences of obesity costs an estimated £5.1 billion each year, placing a huge strain on the health service. Levels of obesity in England are increasing with over a quarter of the adult population now classed as obese. It is also estimated that these figures could potentially reach 60 percent for adult men, 50 percent for adult women and 25 percent for children by 2050”.
The aim of this new draft guidance is to help tackle obesity using a “community wide” approach, by encouraging different organisations including local government, community groups and networks to take action and work together to plan and implement their own local strategies to prevent obesity in their community. The draft recommendations emphasise the importance of working with local people to decide what action to take. People’s concerns about their local areas, such as crime or poorly maintained public areas may affect whether they walk or cycle locally, and in turn their level of activity can affect obesity. What works in one locality may not always work in another and interventions need to be tailored for each area, integrating with existing strategies.
The new draft recommendations are aimed at local policy makers, commissioners, managers, practitioners and other professionals across all sectors of the local community. Draft recommendations include:
Activities should be integrated within a wider health and wellbeing strategy and broader regeneration and environmental strategies. Action should be aligned with other disease-specific prevention strategies. For example, initiatives to prevent type 2 diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular disease, as well as initiatives to promote mental health.
Community involvement and public health teams should gather local residents’ views to identify their priorities in relation to weight issues and more general concerns. For example, residents may feel that issues such as crime, the lack of well-maintained green space, or the lack of a sense of community are their top priorities. Where possible, the teams should make it explicit that often general concerns can (and do) impact on levels of obesity within the community.
Public health coordinators, with support from directors of public health, should establish methods for involving private organisations in the implementation of the local obesity strategy. This includes, for example, caterers, leisure providers, the local chamber of commerce, retailers and other workplaces. They should consider developing local activities based on national initiatives to achieve this.
Once published, this guidance will provide a framework for existing NICE guidance that directly or indirectly impacts on obesity prevention and management. It will focus on an overarching approach to obesity in local communities, and the importance of integrating obesity with other local agendas (such as initiatives to prevent type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease). The ongoing structural changes to the public sector, particularly local authorities and the NHS, have been an important consideration in developing the draft recommendations. The draft guidance is available at: http://guidance.nice.org.uk/PHG/Wave20/53
The NICE is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance and standards on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.