Project Title:

Addressing obesity among children, young people and families in Hertfordshire

Type of Research

Applied health research

Background & Scientific Rationale:

Obesity in childhood continues to be a public health concern. More children are overweight or obese when they leave primary school than when they join, age 4-5 years. Across Hertfordshire the prevalence of obesity and overweight is 27% among Reception children and 45% among Year 6 children. Many of these children are likely to remain obese/overweight throughout secondary school and into adulthood, with implications for their physical health and mental/social wellbeing. Children are more likely to have excess weight if they live in a socio-economically deprived area.
Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) are proposing to adopt the Amsterdam 10 Pillars approach to address obesity in childhood as evidence suggests this is an effective systems approach to bring about change. Traditional approaches to obesity that focus on single interventions in isolation will not achieve reductions to overweight and obesity. All partners and sectors need to take ownership and recognise their responsibility to support communities to maintain a healthy weight long term, as part of a county-wide approach. HCC recently surveyed 1600 parents in Hertfordshire and healthy weight and healthy eating were among the top four subjects that parents wanted help and advice on (with mental health and physical activity being rated first and third in terms of priorities).

Research aims:

The project will work with Stevenage district council and 1-2 other districts (to compare a socio-economically deprived population with others) within Hertfordshire to develop priorities for action to address obesity among local children and young people.


Parents, young people, and other stakeholders in consultations/focus groups and through other means (e.g. social media and creative practice) will be involved to develop priorities for action to address obesity among local children and young people. This will include exploring support and services currently available and what support/services are required. Drawing on pillars from the proposed Hertfordshire obesity strategy and findings from the recent parent survey the following will be explored with parents, young people, and other stakeholders as potential areas for immediate action: the food/eating environment in schools and neighbourhoods; specialised information/support e.g. for those with special educational needs and on ‘fussy’ eating; and tackling mental well-being in relation to weight management.

Key findings and Outputs:

Outcomes will include a peer reviewed journal paper; and presentations to Hertfordshire health and well-being boards and within the communities/districts involved in the study through the Healthy Hub network. Findings will also be used to develop external funding applications for further research / implementation.


For further information on this project, please contact Wendy Wills

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