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Examining the impact of cuts to local government spending on Sure Start Children’s Centres on childhood obesity; a commentary

Commentary by Tim Huijts (ROA) published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

The adverse effects of childhood obesity are considerable, both during childhood and in the longer term. Children with obesity have a higher risk of psychological morbidity, and are more likely to be obese and have cardiovascular risk factors as adults. The importance of childhood conditions more generally (and social and geographical inequalities in these conditions) for population health is increasingly recognised and prioritised among both academic and policy-oriented audiences. The Sure Start Children’s Centres in England are a good example of initiatives that were designed to deal with this, with prevention of obesity and reduction of health inequalities being among the aims of the centres. In this commentary, I reflect on the findings and the approach of a recent paper that examined the impact of spending cuts to these centres, focusing on three main topics: (1) estimates of the number of children affected by the cuts, and implications of this for reinvesting in Sure Start; (2) involvement of target/reference groups; and (3) the implications of this study in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

> Read more: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jech-2021-217190


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