Introduction: scope and purpose of this guidance

What is this guidance about?

This guidance aims to support effective, sustainable and community-wide action to prevent overweight and obesity in adults and overweight and obesity in children. It sets out how local communities, with support from local organisations and networks, can achieve this. The recommendations cover:

  • developing a sustainable, community-wide approach to obesity

  • strategic leadership

  • supporting leadership at all levels

  • coordinating local action

  • communication

  • involving the community

  • integrated commissioning

  • involving businesses and social enterprises operating in the local area

  • local authorities and the NHS as exemplars of good practice

  • planning systems for monitoring and evaluation

  • implementing monitoring and evaluation functions

  • cost effectiveness

  • organisational development and training

  • scrutiny and accountability.

This guidance focuses on the prevention of overweight and obesity. The recommendations may also help people who are already overweight or obese to lose weight, or to prevent them from gaining further weight. It does not cover clinical management for people who are already overweight or obese.

A 'sustainable, community-wide approach' to prevent obesity involves a set of integrated services and actions delivered by the many organisations, community services and networks that make up the local system.

For the purpose of this guidance, 'local community' refers to a group of people from the same geographic location that is not necessarily related to any official, administrative boundary. The community may be located in a ward, borough, region or city. This guidance does not cover interventions in a particular setting (such as a school or workplace) that do not involve the wider community.

The guidance has a strong focus on local partnership working. For the purpose of this guidance, a partner could be a local department, service, organisation, network, community group or individual that could help prevent obesity.

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is for local policy makers, commissioners, managers, practitioners and other professionals working in local authorities, the NHS and the wider public, private, voluntary and community sectors. It is particularly aimed at:

  • local authority chief executive officers

  • executive directors of local authority services (such as directors of children's or adult's services and directors of planning or leisure services)

  • directors of public health, members of health and wellbeing boards

  • elected members (particularly council leaders, including cabinet leads for health)

  • community champions.

The recommendations will also be of interest to academic organisations involved in designing and evaluating community-wide interventions to prevent and manage obesity, as well as members of the public.

Why is this guidance being produced?

This guidance focuses on an overarching approach to obesity in local communities and the importance of integrating action on obesity in other local agendas (such as initiatives to prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers, or initiatives to improve the environment and promote sustainability).

The guidance will support the government's call for action on obesity and the public health outcomes framework. It provides an organisational framework for existing NICE guidance (community-based or individual interventions) that directly or indirectly impacts on obesity prevention or management.

The ongoing structural changes to the public sector, particularly local authorities and the NHS, have influenced the direction and tone of the recommendations. This guidance is intended to support organisations that have a role in obesity prevention in the wider public health agenda, including Public Health England, the National Commissioning Board, local authorities, local Healthwatch, local health and wellbeing boards and clinical commissioning groups.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)