Lost in translation? Theory, policy and practice in systems-based environmental approaches to obesity prevention in the Healthy Towns programme in England
This paper explores how system-wide approaches to obesity prevention were ‘theorised’ and translated into practice in the ‘Healthy Towns’ programme implemented in nine areas in England. Semi-structured interviews with 20 informants, purposively selected to represent national and local programme development, management and delivery were undertaken. Results suggest that informants articulated a theoretical understanding of a system-wide approach to obesity prevention, but simplifying this complex task in the context of uncertainty over programme aims and objectives, and absence of a clear direction from the central government, resulted in local programmes relying on traditional multi-component approaches to programme delivery. The development of clear, practical guidance on implementation should form a central part of future system-wide approaches to obesity prevention.