A greater understanding is required of the local drivers of individual food choices, in particular in communities at greatest risk of food poverty or diet-related ill-health.  This type of insight could help to inform the design of effective, tailored interventions to improve the food environment for maximum health impact.

In February 2016, Hackney launched a new Obesity Strategic Partnership (OSP) 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.  It will be working closely with businesses and residents to develop an effective and tailored approach that is relevant to Hackney’s unique communities.

The Healthier Hackney Fund 2016/17 has awarded grants to test out ideas about how to address the wider causes of obesity. Two of the projects are related to the food environment: one project aims to understand the impact of food marketing on the perceptions of young people; the second will map fast-food restaurants across the borough and assess the dietary quality of the menus.[1]

There are also opportunities to use established standards to further improve catering procurement to influence the food available in local public sector settings (including leisure facilities, parks and NHS premises), and to work with local employers to create workplaces that support healthier food choices (for example through the London Healthy Workplace Charter framework). [43]

Hackney Council is also supporting the development of a model to work with local independent convenience (‘corner’) shops to influence food and drink purchasing decisions. This is intended to help convenience stores contribute to the response to obesity, by making healthier choices easier.  The approach will be delivered in partnership with the council’s Environmental Health team, and will focus on working with shops in low-income areas to ensure that the approach is relevant to reducing health inequalities.

[1] For more detail visit http://www.hackney.gov.uk/healthier-hackney-fund