A young boy with glasses and a blue backpack is sat holding bananas and eating a nectarine.
An infographic video reporting the main impact findings for a project in Knowsley.

The mission.

Weight changes in primary school children.

Knowsley has a higher than average childhood obesity rate and there is a drive locally to bring this rate down - fast. Knowsley Council commissioned Social Change to conduct research and insight and to work with professionals and stakeholders to understand what factors influence changes in weight in primary school aged children and what can be done to reverse a worrying trend. This work has supported current and future decisions on how to support children, parents/carers, and schools and how to design and deliver a whole systems change in Knowsley that prevents obesity in children.

A mock up of the Knowsley report page spreads, displaying the Introduction and Key Audience pages.

The research.

A mixed methodology

Initial scoping of local and national level data was undertaken to understand the issue of childhood obesity and to inform the overall research strategy.

A mixture of quantitative and qualitative research methods was used to engage with our key audience groups. We captured the views of primary school teaching staff via an online survey and we held workshops with children aged 8 – 11 in school and youth settings. We used a range of methods to engage parents and carers, including a focus group, an online survey and telephone interviews.

A mock up of the page spreads from the Knowsley project report.
A mock up of the page spreads from the Knowsley project report.

The impact.

This research provided a range of insights and actionable recommendations for Knowsley Council, including:

  • Support to teaching staff to raise the issue of weight changes with parents in non-confrontational ways.
  • Improvement to the brand visibility of the local weight management and healthy lifestyle service to teachers and parents via talks and information events.
  • Increased attention to the promotion and provision of family food tasting sessions and cooking classes to encourage children to try new healthy foods in an exciting way. We recommended that sessions should focus on cooking skills and provide information on foods that are both healthy and inexpensive.
  • Improving the 'offer' for physical activities by improving the local infrastructure (travel and green spaces) and exploring the option of how to continue to run school sports clubs during the holidays.
  • Changes to the food environment in Knowsley. 
20+ recommendations for change
50+ teachers engaged locally
50+ families interviewed/ surveyed