NICE – Local authority environmental interventions

Local authorities (including planning, transport and leisure services) should engage with the local community, to identify environmental barriers to physical activity and healthy eating. This should involve:

  • an audit, with the full range of partners including PCTs commissioners of public health services or local health boards, residents, businesses and institutions
  • assessing (ideally by doing a health impact assessment) the affect of their policies on the ability of their communities to be physically active and eat a healthy diet; the needs of subgroups should be considered because barriers may vary by, for example, age, gender, social status, ethnicity, religion and whether an individual has a disability.

Barriers identified in this way should be addressed.

Promoting physical activity and encouraging active travel

Local authorities should work with local partners, such as industry and voluntary organisations, to create and manage more safe spaces for incidental and planned physical activity, addressing as a priority any concerns about safety, crime and inclusion, by:

  • providing facilities such as cycling and walking routes, cycle parking, area maps and safe play areas
  • making streets cleaner and safer, through measures such as traffic calming, congestion charging, pedestrian crossings, cycle routes, lighting and walking schemes (see preventing unintentional injuries on the road among pedestrians and cyclists in the NICE pathway on walking and cycling)
  • ensuring buildings and spaces are designed to encourage people to be more physically active (for example, through positioning and signing of stairs, entrances and walkways)
  • considering in particular people who require tailored information and support, especially inactive, vulnerable groups.

Local authorities should facilitate links between health professionals and other organisations to ensure that local public policies improve access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity.

Local authorities and transport authorities should provide tailored advice such as personalised travel plans to increase active travel among people who are motivated to change.

Obesity – Stakeholders »Obesity – Stakeholders
Stakeholders – Institutions »Stakeholders – Institutions
NICE Guidance on Diet, Nutrition and Obesity »NICE Guidance on Diet, Nutrition and Obesity
NICE – Obesity »NICE – Obesity
NICE – Local authority environmental interventions
Shape the physical environment to encourage physical activity »Shape the physical environment to encourage physical activity
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