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New Resource to help build healthier environments and combat obesity in Wales

Published: 1 July 2021

Public Health Wales have published a suite of documents that will help inform and enable healthier future environments including strategies to help stem the rise in obesity in Wales.  

Liz Green, Consultant in Public Health, Policy and International Health at public Health Wales, said: “This work was originally conceived as a tool for addressing increasing levels of obesity across Wales, through the future planning of the environments that people live and work in. With data suggesting that 58 per cent of adults in Wales are overweight or obese, the need for creating environments that enable and encourage healthy weight has never been more important. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased morbidity and mortality risk for those who are classed as obese, is another urgent call to shape environments and places that are health promoting and are not adding further to the obesity challenge. 

“For example, increasing the number of and access to green and blue spaces, prioritising active travel over car use and creating buildings with adequate internal space that allows bike storage and kitchen facilities, are just some of the factors that can be added in at the planning stage, that encourage healthier behaviours and therefore healthier weight.  

“This document recognises that addressing the broader determinants of health which impact on a healthy weight involves a consideration of how to create healthier environments as much as addressing health behaviours on their own. We greatly hope that this dual pronged approach will halt the trend of obesity in Wales and provide healthier lives for future generation.” 

‘Planning and Enabling Healthy Environments’ is a suite of documents that has been developed by health experts to assist local authority planning policy and development management officers, national and local public health team practitioners, environmental health representatives, national advocates and policy makers for planning and health, and developers in Wales to contribute to the creation of healthy environments, including healthy weight.  

It provides context and information on the current barriers to creating healthy environments, relevant planning policy and different approaches for achieving these environments at national and local levels, and a series of case studies using examples from Wales and the United Kingdom (UK) of Local Authorities (LAs) who have already utilised innovative and practical actions to overcome the challenges that many people face in sustaining healthy lifestyles. 

The resource provides a practical template for a Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) for Healthy Weight Environments, providing the context and information to contribute to and support local land use policies and Local Development Plans (LDPs). 

It is for those who wish to use the planning system to work towards creating environments which achieve both planning and public health goals to address obesity, diet, physical activity, social cohesion and mental well-being. 

The six elements to planning healthy weight environments are:  

  1. Movement and access 
  2. Open spaces, play and recreation 
  3. Healthy food  
  4. Neighbourhood spaces and social infrastructure 
  5. Buildings, and 
  6. Local economy. 

The full resource can be found here: