Off the scales


Childhood obesity is one of the most challenging, complex and contentious problems the Government faces today. One in five children start primary school obese or overweight, and this increases to more than one in three by the time they leave. This report case-studies the Amsterdam Healthy Weight Programme, which is a politically led, joined-up, whole-systems approach aimed at ending childhood obesity in Amsterdam by 2033. It was launched in 2013 by Amsterdam’s Deputy Mayor and Alderman Eric van der Burg, who is considered by people involved as critical to its introduction, delivery and success. Since 2013, childhood obesity rates have already decreased by 12 per cent among all children, and 18 per cent among the poorest children.

This report examines the main principles that have contributed to the programme’s impact, including political leadership, focus on the wider social impact, whole-systems approach, targeted interventions and consistent monitoring and evaluation. This report’s recommendations are characterised and designed based on a whole-systems approach and area targeting. The report argues that it is the only way the Government will effectively and sustainably address such a complex issue and that single interventions are insufficient in isolation.

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