Childhood Obesity Trailblazer

 Early Years Family Food Environment

The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and managed by the Local Government Association.  It promotes a test and learn approach to try out innovative approaches to using local authority levers to address specific drivers of childhood obesity and to reduce inequalities in childhood obesity. The programmes aims include sharing of learning and best practice with other authorities and to identify actions which government can take to deliver change at scale.

Nottinghamshire County Council were successful in being one of five Local Authorities selected to take part in this 3-year national programme. 

The purpose of the Nottinghamshire Childhood Obesity Trailblazer is to:

Improve the home and community food environment of families with children in the early years living in areas of higher childhood obesity prevalence.

The focus of the Nottinghamshire project is on how the local system can positively influence, enable, and support change within the home and community food environment for families with children in the early years (under 5’s).  Our initial Trailblazer work will be focussed on areas of Nottinghamshire with the highest levels of childhood obesity (in Bassetlaw, Mansfield and Ashfield Districts). It is very much a cross Council and partnership approach bringing together skills and expertise from Public Health, Early Years and School Catering with Children’s Centre Services, Childcare and Early Years Providers, local healthy lifestyle services and importantly, local parents.


Our Trailblazer programme has the following objectives:

  1. Making access to affordable healthy food for families easier

Focus groups with parents told us that time pressures due to parental and employment responsibilities and the ability to find healthy recipes can be challenging. Some families did not feel that healthy food was affordable. Time, cost, access, preparation skills were all barriers families experienced to eating healthier meals. 

What are we going to do?

  • Using the school meals supply chain, we’ll be testing out the idea of nutritionally balanced meal kits for families
  • Working with Children’s Centres to work towards centres being a community food asset for families.
  • Offering healthy affordable food through a FOOD Club in some Children's Centres
  • Work with partners locally to raise awareness of Healthy Start Vouchers


  1. Improve quality of food provision through early years settings

Local childcare and nursery providers told us that they work hard to provide healthy meals and snacks to the children they look after, and they are keen to be able to provide information and advise parents and carers on healthy eating.

What are we going to do?

  • Work with local Early Years providers to understand what help and support they need and develop food and nutrition confidence, knowledge and skills
  • Test out enhancing and broadening the Council’s School Meals offer to include Early Years providers


  1. Enable parents to develop good eating habits with their children

Evidence tells us that parental feeding styles and practices can have an impact on children’s eating behaviours

What are we going to do?

  • Rolling out the child feeding guide training to front line practitioners to give them the evidence-based information to share with parents
  • Engage with local parents so they have a say in how the project is delivered
  • Investigate ways in which we can enhance social eating opportunities within communities with a focus on the early years


  1. Promote consistent messages on healthy food for pre-school children

The messages on healthy eating for children under 5 differ from those for older children and adults, which can make it difficult and confusing for parents and care givers to know what meals are right for young children.

What are we going to do?

  • We will create momentum and raise awareness through developing a range of simple, consistent healthy eating messages specifically targeted for early years

Stakeholder Bulletin


If you would like to discuss the project in more detail or be a partner in the project please email:

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