Understanding how local authorities in England address obesity: A wider determinants of health perspective

James Nobles*, Alex Christensen, Matthew Butler, Duncan Radley, Katie Pickering, Joanna Saunders, Carol Weir, Pinki Sahota, Paul Gately

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Local government organisations (LAs) have a major role in the prevention and treatment of obesity in England. This study aims to 1) understand what actions are being taken by LAs to address obesity, and 2) determine how actions counter the perceived causes of obesity when mapped against the Wider Determinants of Health (WDoH) model. Thirty-two LAs were invited to complete an Action Mapping Tool, 10 participated. The tool requires LAs to document actions being implemented locally to address obesity. This then enables LAs to map their actions against the perceived causes of obesity, using the WDoH model as an analytical lens. We collated data from the 10 LAs and used an adapted framework synthesis method for analysis. 280 actions were documented across the 10 LAs; almost 60% (n = 166) targeted Individual Lifestyle Factors (ILF), with 7.1% (n = 20), 16.8% (n = 47) and 16.4% (n = 46) targeting Social and Community Factors (SCF), Living and Working Conditions (LWC) and Wider Conditions (WC) respectively. Conversely, 60% of causes were spread across the LWC and WC, with 16.4% regarded as ILF. Physical activity-, weight management-, and health improvement- programmes were most frequently implemented by LAs. There is a stark mismatch between LA actions on obesity and its perceived causes. Given that LAs acknowledge the complex aetiology of obesity, an equally comprehensive approach should be implemented in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)998-1003
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number10
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Action mapping
  • Obesity prevention
  • Obesity treatment
  • Local government
  • Whole systems approach
  • Health policy
  • Wider determinants of health


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