The Great Weight Debate

London has more overweight and obese children than any other global city. More than a third are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. The Great Weight Debate – a London conversation on childhood obesity aims to raise awareness of London’s childhood obesity epidemic and gather ideas from Londoners about what changes they think can help children and young people in London lead healthier lives.

All London councils have new plans to tackle childhood obesity and are putting these into action.  But all partners recognise that we need to work faster, harder and smarter and the Great Weight Debate aims to help galvanise social action for change.

We are co-ordinating the Great Weight Debate, with an expert steer from the London Obesity Leadership Group and in partnership with London boroughs, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, the Greater London Authority, NHS England (London), and Public Health England (London).

Conversations with Londoners are being led at a local level by London boroughs who are holding Great Weight Debate events and activities to talk to their communities. The Great Weight Debate aims to involve all Londoners in the conversation, including retailers and businesses.

Londoners can complete the Great Weight Debate survey where they can share their ideas on what they think can be done to help children in their area lead healthier lives.

Local authorities taking part include Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Fulham, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith, Haringey, Harrow, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Redbridge, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Westminster.   Healthy London Partnership has developed resources for boroughs, schools and youth teams to help them hold Great Weight Debate events.

London Clinical Commissioning Groups can promote the Great Weight Debate through their existing communication channels using template resources available on the Great Weight Debate website.

The debate aims to highlight how London’s ‘abnormal environment’ is causing our childhood obesity epidemic.  This includes:

  • widespread availability of cheap, high calorie food and drink

  • larger portion sizes than in the past

  • marketing of unhealthy foods to children

  • confusion about what the healthiest food options are for their children amongst parents

  • lack of understanding of what a “normal” weight is for a child

  • city environment that discourages walking and cycling.

The survey will run 9 December while boroughs are expected to hold events and activities until the end of the year.

Views and ideas put forward by Londoners will be used to inform the next stage of the debate which will work towards making tangible changes at a community and London-wide level.

A report on the first stage of the Great Weight Debate, which included an event with 120 Londoners, can be found at www.gethealthy.london/greatweightdebate