Pennine Lancashire has been selected to receive funding as part of a national programme to tackle childhood obesity
The Council and its partners in the Together a Healthier Future programme, will use the money to develop innovative plans to reduce childhood obesity that can also be shared across the country.
The focus locally will be improving access to healthier choices for children and families. Currently, the lack of diversity across local high streets and shop parades in some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, means that unhealthy food and drink is often the default for children and families.
Plans being developed will include:
◾Creating a social movement for improved health and wellbeing in some of the most deprived communities.
◾Creating greater awareness of the impact of advertising on food choices.
◾Improving access to affordable healthier food choices for all.
◾Involving local businesses more in improving the health of local residents through social responsibility.
102 local authorities applied to take part in the initial discovery phase of the programme with the Pennine Lancashire bid just one of 13 successful applications.
A kick-off event will take place on Friday, February 15 in London to introduce participants to the programme as well as the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, who are funding and supporting the programme.
After all of the authorities have submitted their initial plans, five will be chosen to take theirs forward over three years, receiving £100k per year to do so.
Councillor Brian Taylor, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “The health of Children and Young People is a leading priority both for us as a Council and across the Integrated Pennine Lancashire Health and Care Partnership. We have a strategy and work ongoing but the increased availability of high sugar and high fat products targeted at children is a growing challenge.
"With this money we will be able to work up some really innovative plans and get out into communities and get an understanding from children, young people and families whether they feel that obesity is an issue in their community and why; engage with local businesses and working with the six planning authorities to drive a consistent policy for effective control of fast food outlets, advertising of junk food and the availability of affordable nutritious food."
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “This is a fine example of partnership working and what the Together a Healthier Future programme is all about. I look forward to us working with our colleagues to create some innovative plans."
Dr Damian Riley, Medical Director at East Lancashire Hospitals and Professional Lead for the Together partnership said: “This is great news. Childhood obesity is a real problem here in Pennine Lancashire and it has a long lasting and detrimental effect on a child’s health. It can lead to early onset type 2 diabetes, muscle and bone problems and heart disease to name just some of the problems. The best way to tackle the issue is with all the agencies who can make a difference working together. It’s particularly important that children and young people themselves, and their families, have the opportunity to influence this by being enabled to make healthy choices, and this is what we aim to achieve by working together."