The main functions of the Observatory are to: provide an authoritative source of data and evidence on obesity, overweight and their determinants; co-ordinate surveillance on obesity and overweight, including working towards the commitment to monitoring made in the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Charter on Counteracting Obesity; analyse surveillance and indicator data, and report on progress against the new ambition to reduce the proportion of overweight and obese children to 2000 levels by 2020 in the context of tackling obesity across the population; provide guidance on assessing and evaluating pilots and demonstration sites in England; gather information on international best practice and developing links to the International Obesity Task Force, WHO, and other supranational bodies; and provide technical support to the Government’s expert panel on obesity.
In its first nine months of operation the Observatory has reviewed options for calculating child obesity prevalence in England; produced detailed analysis, commentary, guidance and data tools relating to the National Child Measurement Programme; and is developing a framework with supporting guidance and tools for use by primary care trusts and others in evaluating weight management interventions to enhance the evidence base. Reports published by the Observatory can be found on their website at:
Future plans include: making reports on obesity data sources and the availability of evidence; recommendations for improving data and evidence; wider evaluation support to practitioners; and further development of approaches to mapping obesity and its determinants building on work already undertaken.
The Observatory works with a range of organisations to support policy makers and practitioners involved in tackling obesity and related issues and will continue to consult and communicate with key audiences to shape objectives, deliverables and future work areas.