Evaluation of a Whole Systems Approach to diet and healthy weight

Public Health Scotland

Working with Public Health Scotland and its stakeholders to shape diet and healthy weight services

The Scottish Government’s aim to halve childhood obesity by 2030 and significantly reduce health inequalities will require the whole system to work collaboratively, bringing together local and national decision-makers. Collective action is required on the many factors that can impact people's health and wellbeing.

The project followed activity in seven local areas that pioneered a Whole Systems Approach (WSA), following Public Health England's (PHE) guide for implementing a WSA, and drawing on nine core characteristics of a WSA developed by Public Health Reform. The PHE guide sets out a process involving WSA workshops followed by the development of an action plan and its implementation by the local system network.

Project delivery coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, and the methodology was adjusted to follow how a WSA was progressed in the localities at this time.  A mixed methodology involved: desk review; observation of the WSA workshops (both live or recorded); interviewing participating stakeholders; and interviews with the national partners.  

The final evaluation report and case studies were published by Public Health Scotland.

The research recommendations provided some short-term priorities for the future direction of the WSA work. This included a report being published to support the work of local authorities and health boards across Scotland to take forward whole systems approaches to diet and healthy weight by recommending seven evidence-based measures which can be utilised as part of a place-based approach to addressing diet and healthy weight.