The services and support section described a comprehensive range of activities, projects and programmes that aim to support healthier diets for local residents. However, there are inevitably some potential gaps and opportunities, examples of which are described below.
Given the relatively poorer dietary behaviour of adolescents and young people (discussed in the inequalities section), this may present a potential gap for local services to address. However, this is likely to be filled at least in part by the new City and Hackney Children and Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Service, launched in October 2016. This new, holistic service has a strong prevention focus and will deliver education and outreach in primary and secondary schools, and also in a range of youth and community settings. As with other school-based interventions, the abundance of independent schools in Hackney does pose a challenge for ensuring equal access to the education provision within this service model, however this challenge is being addressed by engaging with affected communities to better identify need and tailor the provision to maximise coverage of the service.
Other planned and ongoing interventions to tackle the wider food environment (including work to reduce the ‘unhealthiness’ of hot food takeaways on sale locally) will also help to improve the diets of young people as well as other residents. There is also a current gap, in Hackney at least, in terms of working with local employers to create workplaces which support healthier eating for their staff. The City of London Corporation has already attained London Healthy Workplace Charter status and has a comprehensive offer of support to local businesses to create healthier workplaces through the Business Healthy programme. In Hackney, the council was awarded Charter status in October 2016, which is an excellent platform to start working with local employers in a similar way.
The refresh of the local obesity strategy (which expires in 2018) also offers an excellent opportunity to review existing provision to ensure that it is based on the most up-to-date evidence of need and best practice to improve the diets of local people. This work is being led by a new Obesity Strategic Partnership (OSP) in Hackney, which was launched in early 2016 to guide a ‘whole systems approach’ to tackling obesity in the borough. The partnership is chaired by the Chief Executive of the council and includes membership from across a range of service areas that can influence aspects of the food (and physical activity) environment, as well as the NHS. The new strategy will be informed by learning from current local projects, including the behaviour change pilot in Haggerston described earlier.