Last year we learned that Gladsaxe, a municipality in the Copenhagen suburbs (pop 70,000, home to NN HQ), had reported a remarkable reduction in the share of school children with overweight from 26% to 16% over a decade. The data stems from systematic measurement of the children’s height and weight by school nurses and reported to national surveys. 

In order to understand and convey to others how they achieved this impressive change, we made contact with their health administration. Based on very constructive dialogue, we have mapped their journey, including political target-setting, resource prioritisation, evaluation-based evolution of interventions, organisation and training, and continuous learning.

In the mid-2000s the municipality decided to focus prevention efforts on school children. An initial programme produced so-so results but a formal evaluation and new evidence from others pointed to the current selection of offerings – the wellbeing palette – which the municipality believes has produced the positive development. 

All of the activities are voluntary but one intervention – the overweight clinic led by specialised public health nurses – is targeted treatment involving the entire family and requires deeper commitment over several years. So far, 130+ families have been enrolled with more than 80% of the children achieving a decrease or stagnation in BMI.