A PILOT scheme aimed at tackling obesity in East Lancashire needs the community to buy in to succeed, bosses have said.

Blackburn with Darwen Council public health development manager Beth Wolfenden updated members of a Hyndburn Council scrutiny committee on the work ongoing as part of the Healthy Place, Healthy Future campaign.

She said as well as working with councils to look at ways planning policy could be used, the scheme also encouraged discussion among the community.

“It’s not about us telling people what to eat, it’s about people having the conversation and making the changes for themselves.

“We can target areas where we know we have got high levels of childhood obesity.”

More than one in five children are already overweight or obese on entering reception.

The programme is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and managed by the Local Government Association.

Ms Wolfenden added: “When you’re tackling obesity, one thing along will not work. It’s got to be a whole system approach and that’s what we’re looking at.

“People always say eat less, move more but it’s more complicated than that. It’s the whole system that impacts on people’s ability to exercise and eat better.

“From the top we are looking at the planning policy element. In Blackburn with Darwen we have a policy restricting hot food takeaways and we are going to look to strengthen that and help other areas do the same.

“We want to make it a positive and say if you come to our borough, we will work with you to make things healthier.

“We also have a community element called the Great Big Junk Food Debate - it’s a campaign that will encourage discussion among people.

“We have got a very complex population across Lancashire and we need to make sure we negotiate that and include everyone.”

Cllr Tony Dobson said: “If you take McDonalds for example, they have made big strides in reducing salt and sugar and putting more salads on the menu because from a marketing point of view, it is good for business.

“I think it’s a harder sell for local takeaways but I’m sure every elected member will support what you’re doing to tackle this.”