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Tackling child obesity in London


Healthy London Partnership


Research Programme
Social Incubator

Project brief

A new model for prevention using an innovative place-based approach to tackle childhood obesity, and implementing three social ventures to deliver health outcomes and add social value.

This community based project led to over £102,000 matched funding and in-kind resource – demonstrating an innovative new model of instigating local, sustainable and place-based initiatives to upscale prevention activities.

Incubating social ventures adds real social value and provides a new method for commissioning to deliver health outcomes.

Jemma Gilbert

Head of Prevention, Healthy London Partnership

The challenge

According to the UK government’s obesity strategy, nearly a third of children aged two to fifteen are overweight or obese. The drivers leading to child obesity include social, environmental and economic factors meaning that a preventative approach to obesity cannot be solved by the formal health sector alone. Healthy London Partnership commissioned Uscreates to explore how innovative and place-based commissioning models could lever in partners from outside the formal health service, activate local communities and create sustainable interventions across three of the most deprived areas of London (Seven Sisters, Isle of Dogs and Haggerston).


What was needed

Through our research, we identified the need to create community-led, sustainable, healthy living initiatives in the three neighbourhoods to tackle childhood obesity. Additional nurturing and a different cultural mindset were required to incubate social ventures and at the same time ensure the ventures that emerged had the right support to evolve in a way that attracts investment. Taking a design-led approach provided an innovative way to rapidly test new models of community interventions whilst simultaneously engaging the local community and ensuring local buy-in.


What we did

Key insights from our research that informed the development of our three community initiatives included:

Uscreates adopted an agile design approach with two key phases – to better understand the local community and their assets and needs, and to deliver design solutions for each of the three communities:

1. Ethnography with local people and community based co-design
2. Prototyping with social incubation

Our approach differed from both the traditional commissioning model and service design process in that:


The results

Two of the three initiatives have been running independently since Uscreates’ support finished, which is a significant achievement given that one in three social enterprises usually succeed. Make Kit has even won a Healthcare Transformation Award 2017. Additionally, the interventions have generated significantly improved health habits (as reported by our evaluation partners). For instance, as a result of Make Kit, 83% of survey respondents reported to have more confidence in cooking healthy meals, 83% reported being highly likely to refer a friend or family member to the kits and 50% reported being inspired to get more involved in their community.

A number of important learnings have emerged as a result of this work:

Read the full Healthy Communities report