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Big Lottery Fund steps in to tackle increasing obesity rates

January 13, 2014

Over the festive season many of us enjoy the good things in life in a greater quantity than we should, writes Big Lottery Fund Policy and Learning Adviser David Rowlands.

Ysgol Ieuan Gwynedd02 - compressed and squared

January begins with many New Year resolutions focused on losing weight, getting fitter and being healthier. This week see’s National Obesity Awareness Week and there are some stark statistics that mean the issue is much more serious than a bit of over indulgence at Christmas.

Two thirds of Welsh adults in their 40’s are either overweight or obese. The figures are equally alarming for younger generations, with 25% of children in Wales either obese or overweight.

This has a big impact on our health with a link between being overweight and illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Additionally some also see a link between obesity and wider mental health problems. Furthermore, a recent report by the Welsh Government estimates that this problem costs the nation £73 million per year.

As an organisation that is interested in improving the lives of people and communities most in need, this is obviously an issue that the Big Lottery Fund takes seriously. Learning from our Way of Life programme has highlighted the difference that interventions can make on people’s lives.

The Way of Life programme invested £7 million to promote health and active lifestyles among children under 12 years old by creating a joined up approach to play, eating and physical activity. Nearly 40,000 people across Wales benefited from this, with over half of them showing an improved awareness and behavior as a result of the programme.

The programme evaluation also highlighted some important lessons such as the importance of including schools as partners; the benefits of an approach that interacted with all members of the family, as well as the importance in ensuring beneficiaries remain engaged. Finally, as with many things in life, the need to ensure that activities are fun and enjoyable was critical!

Organisations interested in running project’s that encourage healthy living and improve well being should check out funding opportunities that are available on our website through the Awards for All or People and Places programmes or contact our advice line team on 0300 123 0735.

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