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Young Merton Together

The Great Weight Debate Merton Hackathon

Saturday 3rd June saw Merton’s first ever Hackathon - a fun and creative ideas marathon. This event brought people from a range of backgrounds together to come up with creative, innovative solutions to tackle the rising issue of unhealthy weight in children and young people.

What is a Hackathon?

A Hackathon is an event that brings motivated local people together to brainstorm positive suggestions for lasting change in their community.The challenge was to find new and exciting ways to reduce childhood obesity in Merton by getting more children, young people and families eating well and being active.

The Hackathon was run as part of the Great Weight Debate Merton, a six-month project commissioned by Merton Council’s Public Health Team. We have been having lots of conversations with different communities in Merton to find out what is needed to reduce childhood obesity and what is already helping families to tackle this issue. The Hackathon was an opportunity to bring all those ideas together and use them to inspire and develop some actions that could really work in Merton.

Why a Hackathon?

The Hackathon is all about the health of children and young people in Merton: London has more overweight and obese children than any other global city – in some primary schools in Merton, more than 50% of children leave Year 6 overweight or obese.

Being overweight or obese can affect a child’s mental well-being and lead to low self-esteem. There is also a high probability that young people will remain overweight as adults, putting them at increased risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Too many young people find it hard to eat healthily and exercise enough and global evidence shows that unless we change our environment, we won’t stop the childhood obesity epidemic.

The questions discussed were:

  • How can we support families and young people in Merton to eat more healthily?
  • How can we support busy working families in Merton to help their children achieve 60 minutes exercise a day?
  • How can we tackle the growing fast food environment in Merton?
  • How can we make healthy options more attractive and affordable in Merton?

Outcomes:

The Great Weight Debate Merton Team is now busy writing up the outcomes and will be taking the ideas and solutions suggested by the Hackathon out to a wider audience. Watch this space!

 This article was reproduced from the Great Weight Debate Merton website.

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The next edition will be published in September 2017