Childhood Obesity: What are the key gaps in knowledge/services?

The promoting healthy weight in children and families group is a multi-agency partnership group that meets quarterly and is responsible for the delivery of the agreed action plans for reducing childhood obesity in Lewisham. A performance dashboard for the group has been recently implemented to build on the systematic sharing of knowledge necessary to inform and aid delivery of the action plans. A needs assessment highlighted the gap in services for children who required support beyond that which can be provided by general preventative measures, school nurses and general practitioners. The number of targeted family interventions available meets only 1% of the estimated need. No specific service exists for children who are extremely obese, have medical conditions secondary to obesity or have co-morbidities such as a physical or learning disability or psychological problems. These children make up the tip of the obesity triangle and although the numbers will be comparatively small, their management remains an important part of the obesity care pathway as it is these children who are most likely to suffer the adverse consequences of their unhealthy weight. Stakeholder interviews identified the need for a specialist weight management service for children. Lewisham’s strategy for reducing childhood obesity is based on NICE obesity guidelines5. Key priorities for the implementation of its recommendations have been produced for the local authority, early years settings, schools, workplaces and the NHS. The new care pathway for childhood obesity is based on a tiered approach (see diagram) covering prevention, targeted and specialist services. Workforce training is in progress to build local capabilities so that staff who work with children and families such as children’s centre staff, family support workers, leisure centre staff and schools are clear about their role in promoting the benefits of a healthy weight. A range of targeted services will be commissioned to cover a wider range of age groups delivered either as individual family sessions or group family programmes. A specialist service for children will be available delivered by healthcare professionals with specialist knowledge of childhood obesity. It is anticipated that these new services will be able to see 800 new families per year. Services will initially be delivered borough wide as local analysis indicates that at present there is no consistent pattern across Lewisham in the rates of childhood obesity. The delivery of these services will be reviewed as further information is obtained from the NCMP and indicate a more targeted approach is needed.





  1. NICE clinical guideline 43. Obesity guidance on the prevention, identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in adults and children. Dec 2006




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