Study provides guidance to help Charnwood tackle obesity in young girls
A study into overweight and obesity prevention in Charnwood has found community resources and knowledge needs to be strengthened for future interventions to have a positive impact.
Researchers at Loughborough University interviewed 33 Charnwood parents, teachers, local authority representatives, sports coaches and shop keepers to understand the community’s knowledge and readiness to address physical activity and healthy eating and drinking to prevent overweight and obesity in primary school girls (aged 7 to 11 years).
The team identified individuals with a direct influence on children’s attitude and behaviours towards a healthy lifestyle and used a “Community Readiness Model” which assessed those individuals’ knowledge, attitude and readiness to address the problem.
The results, recently published in public health journal BMC Public Health, showed the community was more ready to address physical activity than healthy eating and drinking behaviours. However, the community’s resources (including people, money, time and space) and the general community knowledge of the issue were not strong enough to effectively tackle overweight and obesity prevention in Charnwood.
As a result, researchers have suggested resources and knowledge are the most appropriate initial targets for future interventions to prevent overweight and obesity in children in the Charnwood community.
Report author Dr Joanna Kesten said:
“In the UK there is increasing interest in community targeted public health interventions, but less is known about how to tailor these approaches to the needs of the individual community. This study is the first to apply the Community Readiness Model in the UK to assess the stage of community readiness to prevent overweight and obesity in pre-adolescent girls.
“The findings from this study could be used to design a tailored intervention which meets the needs of the Charnwood Borough community.”
Within the report, researchers have identified a clear need for resources to support the development of healthy eating and drinking behaviours outside the school, and in the wider community including local convenience shops and leisure centres.
They highlighted an inconsistent approach by schools towards packed lunch and school meal policies which contributes to disagreements between schools and parents regarding school food policies, and they argue more investment should be made in providing primary school teachers with physical education training.
The study was conducted by the Centre for Global Health and Human Development in the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.
More details of this study can be found online