Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme

This three year programme asks councils to lead innovative action in their local community to tackle childhood obesity. After 13 councils completed a discovery phase, five council led projects have now been selected as Trailblazer Authorities.


The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme aims to:

  • test the limits of existing powers through innovative and determined action to tackle childhood obesity
  • share learning and best practice to encourage wider local action
  • develop solutions to local obstacles and consider further actions government can take to enable ambitious local action and achieve change at scale.

Over the next three years, the five Trailblazer Authorities will develop, deliver, review and expand their ambitious plans to tackle childhood obesity. Each Trailblazer Authority will receive £100,000 worth of funding and project support each year to progress their project.

Support will include:

  • Government expert support – to help find solutions to local challenges and consider implications for future policy development
  • subject matter expertise – to provide relevant commercial/technical expertise and constructive challenge
  • delivery support – to support Trailblazer Authorities to further explore, develop and deliver their plans
  • evaluation support - to provide advice to Trailblazer Authorities on their local evaluation plans to ensure that the impact of the Trailblazer activities are measured.

The programme is funded by the Department and Health and Social Care and administered by the Local Government Association. Public Health England also providing expert support and advice. Discover more about each of the five Trailblazer projects in the section below:

Birmingham City Council

Birmingham plans to test its powers to influence the social and economic determinants of health to shift towards a healthier food and physical activity economy and environment.

This includes a plan to use the apprenticeship levy to offer health, food, nutrition and physical activity focused apprenticeships and support growth in this sector. A city-wide proportionate universalism approach will be taken to target employment opportunities towards 15-19 year olds in the most deprived areas where rates of obesity are highest.

Birmingham will also work with local universities to embed health messaging in wider employment training to upskill a generation that could apply their knowledge in the home and as future parents.

The project plans to create an innovative alternative local metric, the “Birmingham Basket” which would capture local retail spend metrics to identify consumer retail habits and inform policy development and measure the impact of the initiatives.

Email publichealth@birmingham.gov.uk

Pennine Lancashire consortium of local authorities

Pennine Lancashire (Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Lancashire County Council) plan to test its planning powers to restrict food retailers that do not offer healthier options and to test a range of levers to incentivise them to improve their offer. The project includes a “personal planning permissions” approach to regulate the opening of healthy new cafes, restaurants, (A3s) and hot food takeaways (A5s).

All six district councils will look towards permissions being granted for retailers able to demonstrate healthier menus as part of their application.

Linked to an existing healthier retail programme offering free business support, retailers will be incentivised and rewarded through incentives such as free waste removal; procurement opportunities; subsidised advertising across council-owned estate, and opportunities to be part of a “health food hub”.

To harness the support and power of elected members, it will develop induction packs that prioritise healthy weight and support them to become Healthy Weight Champions. Youth MPs will be supported to lead campaigns focused on food as an issue of health, sustainability and food poverty.

Through links with voluntary community and faith sectors, a grassroots movement will be supported to give voice to communities advocating for healthier options with a plan to expand this across Lancashire/South Cumbria.

Find out more about Healthier Place, Healthier Future

Email publichealthadmin@blackburn.gov.uk

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council

Bradford Council, Born in Bradford and the Bradford Council for Mosques have formed a unique partnership to explore the opportunities for working with Islamic Religious Settings, in particular Madrassas to tackle childhood obesity by supporting healthier behaviours and influencing positive social and structural change for better health in the local environment.

This targeted action seeks to address the higher rates of excess weight in South Asian children in Bradford, of which a large majority identify as Muslim. Around 85 per cent of South Asian Muslim children attend the madrassa after school for around two, mostly sedentary, hours per day from the age of four to 15.

This innovative project will work with Islamic religious settings to co-produce evidence-based madrassa curriculum materials and training for Islamic leaders aligned to Islamic Narrative. Action groups will be established within participating faith settings to explore how to mobilise and connect existing community assets to promote joined up local approaches to promote health and identify enablers for systems change with wider partners.

The project will co- create a dynamic model of best practice and guidance to support and facilitate change that can be tailored to a range of Islamic settings both within the district and further afield.

Email healthimprovement@bradford.gov.uk

London Borough of Lewisham

Lewisham plans to test its powers to restrict high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) advertising and utilise unsold outdoor advertising space for health promoting advertisements.

The project also plans to implement a voluntary restriction across the borough through contracts with major advertising estate owners working in partnership with JCDecaux, Outsmart and ISBA (representing Outdoor media owners and brands).

This builds on the Transport for London (TFL) estate HFSS restrictions which cover 50 per cent of advertising space in Lewisham, to cover all JCDecaux owned estate in year one, taking total restrictions across 80 per cent of out of home (OOH) advertising space.

The remaining unsold advertising space will be utilised to promote tailored local public health campaigns devised with the community and support local businesses offering healthier options.

Email publichealthteamlewisham@lewisham.gov.uk

Nottinghamshire County Council

Nottinghamshire County Council plans to build on its broader whole system approach around the community food environment, to develop food skills, access and support for families with children in the early years.

It will test out how Children’s Centres can be developed as community food assets by utilising the school catering services supply chain and other potential local food suppliers to offer low cost, healthier foods and recipes enabling families to develop their food skills and knowledge.

With the commitment of its school catering service, it will trial expanding the supply chain to childcare providers to facilitate provision of healthy food in line with nutritional guidance and familiarise families at pre-school age with the school meals offer to increase uptake of school meals.

Nottinghamshire will explore the potential of using Healthy Start Vouchers innovatively such as through recipe boxes procured through the supply chain to increase local uptake. It will also support staff in the early years and childcare sector to develop food preparation and menu planning skills and promote consistent messages to families around food and healthy eating.

Email foodenvironment@nottscc.gov.uk

Need more information? Please email cotp@local.gov.uk