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Impact of a community-based pilot intervention to tackle childhood obesity: a ‘whole-system approach’ case study

Gadsby, E.W., Hotham, S., Eida, T., Lawrence, C., Merritt, R. (2020) Impact of a community-based pilot intervention to tackle childhood obesity: a ‘whole-system approach’ case study. BMC Public Health, 20 . Article Number 1818. E-ISSN 1471-2458. (doi:10.1186/s12889-020-09694-2) (KAR id:84703)

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Go-Golborne was a three-year pilot programme to test an innovative, community-based ‘whole system’ approach to preventing overweight in children in Golborne ward, London. Whilst there is a growing interest in local whole systems approaches to obesity, understandings of what they look like in practice are newly emerging. Go-Golborne was designed, implemented and evaluated within this context.


The evaluation used a case-study design and theory of change approach to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Height/weight measurements of children in the six participating primary schools were recorded annually for 4 years. For behavioural outcomes, children aged six-11 completed four annual on-line surveys (total 4331 responses). Parents were surveyed in year one and year four (177 responses). Three focus group discussions were held with children aged 10–11 (N = 21); interviews were conducted with parents (N = 11), and school representatives (N = 4). Stakeholders were surveyed twice (37 responses), and interviews were conducted with key stakeholders (N = 11). An extensive range of programme documents were reviewed and additional process data was collected from the programme team. The RE-AIM framework was used to synthesise findings and examine public health impact.


Go-Golborne reached a diverse range of partners across Golborne. Events were attended by over 3360 local children and families and all six primary schools in the ward actively engaged in activities. The proportion of children in the above healthy weight categories remained stable over time. A number of changes in home, school and neighbourhood environments to support healthy behaviour change were evidenced. There was some qualitative evidence of positive changes in children’s behaviours, though significant or sustained changes were not evidenced by the quantitative data.


Go-Golborne helped stakeholders and parents to develop a shared commitment to improving healthy weight in children, to identify barriers to a healthy lifestyle, and to start to make changes in their services/behaviours. The campaigns and changes made at micro-level appeared to be insufficient, in the face of counteracting forces and personal factors, to achieve significant behaviour change within 3 years. This highlights the need for local initiatives to be reinforced by supporting action at regional, national and global levels.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1186/s12889-020-09694-2
Uncontrolled keywords: Childhood obesity, Prevention, Community-based, Health improvement, Whole systems, Evaluation, REAIM
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Depositing User: Erica Gadsby
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2020 09:58 UTC
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2021 14:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Gadsby, E.W.:
Hotham, S.:
Merritt, R.:
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