Healthy Children, Healthy Weight - Creating Healthier Environments




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Dec 14, 2018
by Oscar Tollast
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Healthy Children, Healthy Weight - Creating Healthier Environments

Salzburg Global Fellows consider developments in London, England, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which aim to tackle childhood obesity Photo by Luca Micheli on Unsplash

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, at least two-thirds of the world's population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. Cities will have to respond to the needs of more adults and children. How we design and build our environments to support health and well-being remains of paramount importance.

Participants of Healthy Children, Healthy Weight heard of promising developments in both London, England, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands to tackle childhood obesity.

In London, several organizations focused on creating a healthy food environment are catering to a population estimated to be as high as 8.7 million. Organizations have engaged residents in a Great Weight Debate. People have considered how they can lead healthier lives.

The debate has engaged more than two million people. People have revealed their concerns about the number of fast food shops and the amount of advertising for sugary products. The Healthy London Partnership, who helped spark the Great Weight Debate, has recognized several of the solutions to these problems lie on London’s high streets.

The Healthy High Streets challenge has sparked new ideas as to how high streets can become healthier for children and young people, tapping into the knowledge of communities and businesses. At the launch of the initiative, three high streets offered specially prepared, healthier meals for one week – available at a reduced cost for children and young people.

The challenge has led to the creation of cooking clubs, classes, and new, healthy menus targeted at children. Toolkits have been designed to help businesses sell healthier food to children and families.

In the past year, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a dedicated London Child Obesity Taskforce and shown commitment toward tackling London’s childhood obesity epidemic. From February, meanwhile, junk food adverts will be banned on London Underground, train, tram, and bus services. Fast-food chains will still have the opportunity to advertise on the tube, but they will only be able to promote healthy products.

One participant suggested the environment people grow up in can be a significant contributor to the obesity pandemic, and it is an area which requires greater focus if the numbers of those obese or overweight are to decrease in the long-term. 

The program Healthy Children, Healthy Weight is part of Salzburg Global's multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation. This year’s program is being held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.