Reducing inequalities will be at the heart of the Welsh Government’s Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales Delivery Plan for 2022-24, supported by a £13m investment.
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle confirmed the new funding will support a range of prevention, early intervention and specialised services that will prevent and reduce obesity, particularly in areas of deprivation.
Ms Neagle announced details of the plan whilst joining children at Ysgol y Graig in Merthyr Tydfil, on the first day of Veg Power’s Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign. Primary schools from across Wales are taking part in the five-week programme which will help them understand the importance of eating healthy foods in a fun way.
Enabling schools and other education settings to be places where physical and mental health are supported as a priority is a key part of the new delivery plan. There is a particular focus on early years and children, with local public health teams in Merthyr, Anglesey and Cardiff given funding to run three pilot Children and Families Programmes. The programmes will work with schools and other local settings to deliver activities that support families to plan, prepare and cook healthier food.
The next two years of Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales will also have a strong emphasis on recovery from the pandemic. We know that obesity has been a strong risk factor for serious illness, hospitalisation or death from COVID-19. This has brought into sharp focus the reasons why dietary and physical activity behaviours are vital to people’s overall health.
As part of the plan, a new All Wales Diabetes Prevention Programme will be rolled out to provide support, backed by £1m annual funding.
A public consultation will also be launched in the spring which will ask for public opinion on a range of measures which will include looking at price promotions, calorie labelling, planning, and licensing.
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle, said:
We are ambitious for Wales to be one of the first countries to see a reduction in obesity. This is our second delivery plan for Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales and our focus is on prevention. The pandemic has brought about extra challenges and the new plan will reflect this.
There is a clear link between obesity and deprivation. Obesity rates are around 7% higher in areas of high deprivation for children. We also know that this tracks into adulthood, with obesity being linked to higher rates of illness in those areas. We are determined to improve health inequalities and reducing obesity levels will go a long way to achieving that.
Professor Kelechi Nnoaham, Director of Public Health at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, said:
As a health board, we are committed to do all we can to reduce obesity. Obesity is a complex challenge and we know that there are no simple solutions. The only way to make progress is to work together in partnership with the government, local authorities, and organisations such as schools and community groups. Everyone plays a role in making it easier for people to live healthier lives.