Battling Childhood Obesity: The Evolution and Effectiveness of the Change4Life Campaign

Change4Life is regarded as the national public health program which is the first social marketing campaign developed by the country for tackling and spreading awareness regarding obesity. The campaign was initiated by Public Health England and it began working from January 2009 (, 2019).

The aim of Chang4Life campaign was to assist families to take small and sustainable approaches which are also significant improvements towards diet and physical activity levels. The key slogan of the campaign being used is “eat well, move more, live longer” (, 2019;, 2019).


In 2017, the Health Survey for England informed that nearly 22.4% of the children living in England who are 4-5 years are facing obesity and nearly 34.2% of the children of 10-11 years in England are facing severe obesity. In addition, from 2017 to 2018 in England it was seen that 0.7% to 4.7% of children of reception age (4-5 years) were found to be facing severe obesity living in the local authority and Unitarian districts ( 2019). The further statistics published by the government of England reported that in 2018-19 nearly 34.3% of children are suffering from obesity and overweight issues. In addition, the obesity and overweight statistics among the children of reception age in the UK have been raised from 22.4% to 22.6% in the year 2018 ( 2019). This indicates that childhood obesity rate is high within England and with progressing years more children are facing obesity. Therefore, in this context, the Change4life campaign is chosen to be discussed as it is going to inform the theories and process to be followed in lowering the childhood obesity rate within England.

The target audience of the Change4Life program are the parents of children between 5-11 years of age so that their attitudes, behaviours and beliefs can be changed to help the children eat healthy and avoid being obese (, 2019;, 2019).

The theoretical underpinnings of the Change4Life campaign include behaviour change theories such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour and Theory of Reasoned Action. According to the Theory of Reasoned Action, the behaviour portrayed by an individual is based on assuming the consequence of the behaviour. Thus, change in intention is the key to develop behaviour change among individuals (Meri et al. 2018). The Change4Life campaign has followed the theory according to which they tried promoting the consequences to be faced by the children and their families on adopting healthy diet to change their behaviour of having unhealthy and fast foods to prevent obesity. The Theory of Planned Behaviour informs that actual showcasing of behaviour is based on the extent of control possessed by an individual regarding the behaviour and the strength of intention of the individual in executing the behaviour (Guo et al. 2019). Thus, the Change4Life campaign focussed on changing the intention of the parents to have healthy diet by explaining the benefits from it. In addition, by involving the parents the campaign tried to control the behaviour of the children who are dependent on the parents for deciding their diet to change their intention to eat healthy.

The change for life is funded by the Public Health England which receives sponsors and is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care (, 2019;, 2019). The Change4Life focuses on promoting healthy eating habits is evident as it has mentioned six key healthy behaviours such as 5 portions of vegetables and fruits each day, 400 calorie intake during breakfast and 600 calorie intake during lunch and dinner, cutting fatty foods, executing physical activity each day others to be adopted by families for their children to lower risk of obesity. In order to develop the campaign, the Public Health England performed research regarding commercial and academic expertise of commercial agencies in the market along with success of previous behaviour change programs and the behaviour change theories that can be involved in making the campaign (, 2019;, 2019).

The Change4Life designed Change4Life Sports Club in 2011 to increase physical activity among the children who are in the primary and secondary years in school. According to this health promotion campaign, the children are tried to involve in multiple sports activities along with creating a sense of regular participation in sports to promote physical activity in them (, 2011). In order to develop Change4Life, the policy team of the Healthy Lives Expert Advisory Group is included along with stakeholders of the Food Standards Agency is consulted to determine the behaviours to be mentioned for the parents for encouraging the children develop and achieve healthy weight (, 2019).

The Changte4Life developed partnership with various national retailers and food brands along with major organisation which involve commercial brands such as Nestle, Kellogg and others. In addition, to organise the campaign the Public Health England developed partnership with government departments, NHS and Non-Governmental organisation to have support and materials required for changing health outcomes and behaviour of the individuals. Moreover, 44% primary school along with general hospitals, pharmacies, general practices, town and village halls and others developed partnership to showcase the materials of the campaign (, 2019;, 2019).

No ethical issues are presently found to be faced in the Change4Life campaign. The campaign uses television advertisement through Channel 4 along with different social media to aware people regarding the way to manage obesity. The evaluation for the Change4Life campaign is organised under three high-level themes which are exposure and visibility of the target audience, impact of campaign on the families and tracking the development of social movement. The evaluation approaches used for the campaign include Tracker study, Academic study, Artemis database, proxy data and basket analysis (, 2011).

The Change4Life campaign was immensely effective as it was able to exceed all the targets set for the first year. The campaign was able to reach 99% of the families targeted with 413,466 families found to join the campaign within the first 12 months. In addition, 1.9 million responses were received regarding the campaigns within one year indicating huge reach to the public at local and national level (, 2019;, 2019).

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One of the strengths of the campaign is that it allowed behaviour change among school children to have a healthy diet to avoid the risk of obesity. However, one of the weaknesses of the campaign was that it failed to inform the adults in the country who are also equally affect obesity regarding the way to avoid the risk of obesity.


Guo, R., Berkshire, S.D., Fulton, L.V. and Hermanson, P.M., 2019. Predicting intention to use evidence-based management among US healthcare administrators: Application of the theory of planned behavior and structural equation modeling. International Journal of Healthcare Management, 12(1), pp.25-32.

Meri, A., Hasan, M.K. and Safie, N., 2018. The impact of organizational structure and system settings on the healthcare individual's perception to utilize cloud services: A theoretical literature survey. Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 13(4), pp.888-897.

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