Creating easier, healthier food choices on the high street

Childhood obesity


Too many cheap unhealthy food and drink options, and too many fast food shops make it harder for children to lead healthy lives in the capital. Healthy High Streets works with local food retailers, businesses and communities in three London boroughs to find and test ideas for making high streets healthier for children and young people.

The problem

Over ⅓ of children in London are overweight or obese

by the time they leave primary school.

9 out of 10 Londoners

who responded to London’s Great Weight Debate believe tackling London’s childhood obesity epidemic to help children and young people lead healthier lives should be either the top or a high priority for the capital.

“To tackle childhood obesity, we need to be clear that its effects are disproportionately centred on poorer families; that it is as much a problem of environments as it is of willpower; and that although the issue is complex, the solutions do not have to be. The places our children grow up – our homes, schools and streets – are influenced by many different people. We will succeed by bringing them together and creating environments that make the healthy thing to do, the easy thing to do.” KIERON BOYLE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF GUY’S AND ST THOMAS’ CHARITY

Londoners responding to the Great Weight Debate survey identified cheaper healthy food and drink, support for families to cook healthier food, limits on the number of fast food shops and less marketing and advertising of high fat and surgery food and drink as the top four factors they felt would support children to lead healthier lives. 

We’re working with Healthy London Partnership, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and their partners to run the Healthy High Streets challenge


The Healthy High Streets challenge was designed to tap into the know-how and energy of communities, who know their high street best, and of businesses, who know their business and their customers best. The challenge aims to:

  • Highlight and tackle the problem of easy availability of unhealthy food at a local level
  • Bring people together around a shared desire for change
  • Discover some practical ideas that make it easier for families and young people to make healthier food choices

Generating insights

Before launching the challenge we spent time talking with businesses, families and young people on the three high streets – West Green and High Road in Haringey, Walworth Road and East Street in Southwark, and Clapham Road and around Stockwell Tube station in Lambeth.

Read more about the insights gathered through our research with children, young people, families and local businesses in Haringey, Southwark and Lambeth.

We also spent time gathering insights from external research and evidence about healthier choices, and did a horizon scan looking at inspiring examples of projects and initiatives from around the world which make it easier for people to make healthier choices.

Developing ideas for new solutions

We then invited those who work, live, socialise and play around the high streets in Haringey, Southwark and Lambeth to submit their ideas for making it easier to increase healthier eating and decrease unhealthy eating for families and young people in their local communities.

In Haringey and Southwark, local food businesses launched the challenge by offering specially prepared, healthier meals for one week. These meals were available at a reduced cost for children and young people, and for parents who came in with their children. In Lambeth businesses and local organisations supported our social media campaign, voicing their desire to make the high street healthier and mobilising the wider community to engage with the issue.

Ideas events were held on each high street for residents and businesses to find out more about the challenge, learn what people thought of the food on their high street, get inspired by examples of ideas that have worked elsewhere and develop their idea with support from experts.

On West Green Road in Haringey, Tasters chicken store have built on their healthier meal options for adults to create a healthier children’s menu. Staff have been trained to encourage young people to choose the healthier options and Tasters have tested new approaches to make the healthier choice the easiest and most attractive option.

Tasters owner Shahid Majeed said: “Being a parent of three young children myself I have always been conscious of the eating habits of young people, therefore I started offering healthy eating options in my shop. With the Healthy High Streets Challenge I can now promote these options more to younger people to help them make healthier choices.”

In Lambeth, children’s charity Oasis Play have run a campaign led by young people who work with local food cafes around Clapham Road and Stockwell Tube Station to develop affordably priced, healthy menus for children and young people. Incentives and special promotions will be used to encourage young people to make healthier choices.

“I was keen to be involved in the Healthy High Streets Challenge because I work with many of children, young people and families in Lambeth and I want to see positive changes in the area. It's very important we give young people meaningful and challenging opportunities to make a positive contribution to their local community. The Challenge will allow young people to be at the centre of a local initiative. The fact young people will be an active part of this campaign is already a success.” DAVID OGWE

Lambeth Business Owner Healthy High Streets festival Healthy High Streets event

In Walworth Road and East Street in Southwark, we have supported five finalists in a six month programme made up of individual and group work. Innovation Unit have provided and brokered support on innovation, business and nutrition to help the finalists develop their ideas further and prepare them for testing. We have supported:

  • Yipao Street Food – a new, healthy Colombian street food business from chef Carlos Ramirez;
  • East Street Cooking Club – brings local parents together to share multi-cultural recipes, led by Amparo Redon;
  • Eat Fit, Drink Fit, Be Fit – a healthy eating programme for young people led by a young local food entrepreneur, Jude Jubey, in collaboration with Southwark Youth Offending team;
  • Rudy’s Kitchen – provides affordable, healthy food made by trained volunteers in a friendly community environment, led by Rudy Bangura;
  • Nika’s Kitchen – Annika Clinkett’s fun, plant-based cooking classes are for primary school age children in a community setting.

“Being a part of the Healthy High Street Challenge has given us the opportunity to reach out to parents and children in our communities; sharing our skills and passion for healthier alternatives in fun, innovative ways, while supporting the local market and maintaining a mindful approach when making food choices” Annika Clinkett, Chef and Nutritional Therapist

Our impact

3 London high streets

supported through ideas workshops.

2 winning ideas prototyped

in Haringey and Lambeth.

5 finalist ideas in Southwark

developed and tested through an incubator approach.

“We were really impressed with the ideas submitted for the Healthy High Streets Challenge and excited to be working with all the finalists to pilot their ideas for making their high streets healthier for children and young people. The evidence suggests there’s no one solution for reducing childhood obesity – it’s about doing lots of different things at the same time – and the pilots in Haringey, Lambeth and Southwark aim to complement the work already happening in the boroughs and being done at a London level.” Jemma Gilbert, Director of Prevention at Healthy London Partnership

Watch the project film and read the final report here.