"The Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network is tasked with identifying and driving into practice innovative approaches to health and well-being that will benefit the region and are scalable to a national level. Reverse The Trend has created a programme which addresses children’s physical, nutritional and emotional behavioural responses to the current obesogenic environment in the UK. I believe that this campaign coupled with their planned sustainable business model will create a healthy legacy for future generations. We are keen to work with Reverse the Trend and both regional and national partners to help deliver improved outcomes for children."
Dr Neville Young
Director of Enterprise and Innovation
Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network
Introducing Healthy Habits to Children - a quantitative evaluation measuring the impact of health inequality interventions and measures to address the obesogenic environment.
The pilot study introduced children and parents to 12 healthy habits indicated in the prevention of obesity and poor mental health. The habits selected involved physical, nutritional and emotional activities. Habits were selected according to reported health inequalities for each Local Authority. Children aged 4-16 were randomly selected from schools, youth organisations and sports clubs in England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland. Children and parents were asked to perform different challenges linked to the habits on a daily basis for a total of 56 days. A test-retest method along with matched questionnaires describing engagement in the program and completion of the healthy habit challenges were taken before the program started, one week after the program finished and six months post program. In total approximately 20,500 children took part in the pilot project with 18,246 returning test-retest questionnaires.
The pilot study explored engagement with communities within the pilot area, working with local businesses and influencers who became partners of the program for their area. This created a highly effective social movement around the pilot, encouraging idea sharing and collaboration, with 100% of businesses indicating they would take part in the full program.
The pilot study also examined whether uptake to the program was affected by perceived cost and or effort barriers. Schools were invited to take part by raising sponsorship, or free of charge with a small cost met by the local authority. There was an overwhelming lean to schools, youth groups and sports clubs not raising sponsorship (92%) with a preference to a small contribution being made by the corresponding local authority.
Motivators such as school visits by ambassadors were also measured in terms of levels of engagement with higher levels of engagement (82%) experienced when an Ambassador visit was executed.
The questionnaire measured daily fruit and vegetable intake, mood, sleep routines, water consumption, participation in after school sport activities and overall engagement.
The results showed significant increases in fruit and vegetable intake, healthy sleep routines, improved mood and participation in after school sport clubs post study. There were correlations between Ambassador involvement, Local Authority involvement and engagement levels, indicating an important role for motivators and Local Authority support. Community involvement involving local businesses was linked to a higher level engagement when compared to areas where community involvement did not take place. To conclude, addressing health inequalities by the introduction of healthy habits over a sustainable time period supports the theory of healthy habits reducing the factors leading to childhood obesity and poor mental health. Social Desirability Bias does need to be considered when reviewing these results, however the aim of the program is to affect long term behavioural changes and increases in fruit and vegetable consumption, sleep routines, mood, movement and school activities remain after 6 months which suggests the program has measurable impact.