Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme

The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme is an ambitious programme which aims to support the mobilisation of cross-sector action in localities across England to tackle childhood obesity. The five Trailblazer projects are in Birmingham, Bradford, Lewisham, Nottinghamshire, and Pennine Lancashire.

The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme (COTP) seeks innovative action to tackle childhood obesity at local level. The programme is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and managed by the Local Government Association with support from Public Health England.

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 City Council logo

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.


Birmingham City Council: Year 1 update

Birmingham City Council: Year 2 Q2 update

Birmingham City Council: Year 2 Q3 update

Birmingham City Council: Year 2 Q4 update

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


Pennine Lancashire has over 250 elected members. During the discovery phase for the trailblazer programme we began to engage with a range of councillors across the footprint.

We discovered that whilst many elected members were interested in health and wellbeing, the majority felt as though they were ill-prepared to be able to influence the agenda, specifically around healthy weight within their ward and/or portfolio, and so ‘system leadership’ was identified as a key lever for the programme.

Read the full case study: Engaging and empowering system leaders to influence health and wellbeing in their communities

Pennine and Lancashire consortium of local authorities: Year 1 update

Pennine and Lancashire consortium of local authorities: Year 2 Q2 update

Pennine Lancashire consortium of local authorities: Year 2 Q3 update

Pennine Lancashire consortium of local authorities: Year 2 Q4 update

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council

City of Bradford logo

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.


City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Year 1 update

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Year 2 Q2 update

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Year 2 Q3 update

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Year 2 Q4 update

London Borough of Lewisham

Lewisham Council logo

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.


London Borough of Lewisham: Year 1

London Borough of Lewisham: Year 2 Q2 update

London Borough of Lewisham: Year 2 Q3 update

London Borough of Lewisham: Year 2 Q4 update

Nottinghamshire County Council

Nottinghamshire County Council logo

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.


Nottinghamshire County Council: Year 1 update

Nottinghamshire County Council: Year 2 Q2 update

Nottinghamshire County Council: Year 2 Q3 update

Nottinghamshire County Council: Year 2 Q4 update

Nottinghamshire County Council: Early Years Food Environment


Childhood Obesity meets Building Back Better

Learning from successful community engagement: Bradford Childhood Obesity Trailblazer

Engaging businesses: the importance of business in childhood obesity

Key lessons from the political engagement webinar

Lewisham Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme - Co-production with the Young Mayors Team

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