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Effects of local authority expenditure on childhood obesity

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  • Dan Liu
  • Anne Mason
  • Linda Marks
  • Howard Davis
  • David J. Hunter
  • Llinos Mary Jehu
  • Joanne Smithson
  • Shelina Virsram


Publication details

JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Oct 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 7 Dec 2018
DatePublished (current) - Aug 2019
Issue number4
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)785–790
Early online date7/12/18
Original languageEnglish


BackgroundUnder the 2013 reforms introduced by the Health and Social Care Act (2012), public health responsibilities in England were transferred from the National Health Service to local authorities (LAs). Ring-fenced grants were introduced to support the new responsibilities. The aim of our study was to test whether the level of expenditure in 2013/14 affected the prevalence of childhood obesity in 2016/17.MethodsWe used National Child Measurement Programme definitions of childhood obesity and datasets. We used LA revenue returns data to derive three measures of per capita expenditure: childhood obesity (<19); physical activity (<19) and the Children’s 5–19 Public Health Programme. We ran separate negative binomial models for two age groups of children (4–5 year olds; 10–11 year olds) and conducted sensitivity analyses.ResultsWith few exceptions, the level of spend in 2013/14 was not significantly associated with the level of childhood obesity in 2016/17. We identified some positive associations between spend on physical activity and the Children’s Public Health Programme at baseline (2013/14) and the level of childhood obesity in children aged 4–5 in 2016/17, but the effect was not evident in children aged 10–11. In both age groups, LA levels of childhood obesity in 2016/17 were significantly and positively associated with obesity levels in 2013/14. As these four cohorts comprise entirely different pupils, this underlines the importance of local drivers of childhood obesity.ConclusionsHigher levels of local expenditure are unlikely to be effective in reducing childhood obesity in the short term.

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.

    Research areas

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