Healthy lifestyle, children and young people

In Tower Hamlets, by age 11 over half of children are overweight or obese. Like in other places in the country, the numbers of children who have excess weight has increased during the pandemic. Children in deprived areas or from certain minority ethnic groups are less likely to be a healthy weight.

As excess weight childhood is associated with a wide range of health problems in both childhood and later in life, reducing obesity in Tower Hamlets is a key public health priority locally.

We are committed to ensuring that all children in Tower Hamlets can live happy, healthy lives.

We have taken a whole systems approach to supporting healthy weight. This recognises that individual-level action on its own won’t work. Rather, we must work in partnership to tackle “obesogenic environments”. To improve the socio-economic, cultural and environmental issues to help children and families achieve heathy weight.

Work we are doing locally to tackle this issue

Our aim is to make it easier for children, young people and their families to eat more healthily, be more active and achieving a healthy weight. Our 2022-2024 Child Healthy Weight Action Plan sets out how we work with partners to do this in the following ways:

Healthy places

The council is working on ways to make it easier for people to be active, have access to green spaces and restricting unhealthy adverts and new fast food outlets near schools. We are committed to ensuring all council policies, strategies and contracts support addressing childhood obesity, and that young people’s voice and visions shapes the borough.

Healthy settings

We are working with schools to enable pupils to enjoy a healthy school food experience and increase physical activity opportunities. With partners, we aim to improve healthy food and eating offers across the borough.

Healthy services

We want to empower people to make healthy choices. We’re leading innovative work to develop a shared language around healthy weight; and we’re developing a network of peer support for families. We will share helpful information to residents and equip relevant professionals to provide the correct support to families.

Services

Toyhouse

Fun, active play and healthy eating courses and resource pack for children aged 0 to 4 years and their parents. Visit www.toyhouse.org.uk, call 020 7987 7399 or email info@toyhouse.org.uk

Breakfast clubs

Breakfast clubs are available in most schools to give children a healthy start to the day. Speak to your local school.

Check the MEND timetable for the latest free programmes taking place around the borough.

Free cycle training

Provided by Tower Hamlets council for adults and families who live or work in the borough. Visit the cycling page for more, call 020 7364 6940 or email cycling@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Healthy Families programme

Parents of children aged under 11 can attend 5- to 6-week courses on healthy eating and active lives. Call the council's Parental Engagement Team on 020 7364 1952.

Food for Health awards

Rewards businesses offering access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables, and supports restaurants and cafes that make their food healthier – e.g. by decreasing salt, fat and sugar.

To learn more about the scheme visit the Food for Health page.

Useful external links 

 


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In Tower Hamlets, nearly 1 in 7 children in reception (4- to 5-year-olds) and over 1 in 4 of children in year 6 (10- to 11-year-olds) are obese. Tower Hamlets has the fifth highest proportion of obese 10- to 11-year-olds in London and the sixth highest in the country. However, levels of obesity in 4- to 5-year-olds have been decreasing over the last 5 years and, following a steep rise, the levels of obesity in 10- to 11-year-olds has plateaued over the last 3 years.

Poor diet and low levels of physical activity also increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke and other ill-health. As childhood obesity is associated with a wide range of health problems in both childhood and later in life, reducing obesity in Tower Hamlets is a key public health priority locally.

Work we are doing locally to tackle this issue 

Our aim is to make it easier for children, families and adults to be more physically active and eat more healthily. Working with partners we do this in the following ways:

Improving environments

Tower Hamlets is a very built-up. The council is working on ways to make it easier for people to be active and have access to green spaces through the green grid strategy and cycling initiatives through local schools.  

Improving access to healthy food

Tower Hamlets has lots of fast food businesses. The council encourages local food businesses to reduce levels of fat, sugar and salt and increase the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables through the Food4Health award scheme. The Healthy Schools and Healthy Early Years programmes work with schools, nurseries and children’s centres to provide healthier food and increase opportunities for physical activity.

Providing opportunities for children and families to be active

Active play, walking, cycling, swimming and more specialist physical activity and weight management schemes are available across the borough, which you can read about below.

Services

Toyhouse

Fun, active play and healthy eating courses and resource pack for children aged 0 to 4 years and their parents. Visit www.toyhouse.org.uk, call 020 7987 7399 or email info@toyhouse.org.uk

Breakfast clubs

Breakfast clubs are available in most schools to give children a healthy start to the day. Speak to your local school.

Check the MEND timetable for the latest free programmes taking place around the borough.

Free cycle training

Provided by Tower Hamlets council for adults and families who live or work in the borough. Visit the cycling page for more, call 020 7364 6940 or email cycling@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Healthy Families programme

Parents of children aged under 11 can attend 5- to 6-week courses on healthy eating and active lives. Call the council's Parental Engagement Team on 020 7364 1952.

 

Food for Health awards

Rewards businesses offering access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables, and supports restaurants and cafes that make their food healthier – e.g. by decreasing salt, fat and sugar.

To learn more about the scheme visit the Food for Health page.

Useful external links