North Yorkshire has succeeded in empowering people to live healthier lives despite the challenges of Covid-19, according to a new report.

The fourth Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives report recognises North Yorkshire’s response to the pandemic and explores how it affected our lifestyles and the long-term impacts.

David Watson, Chief Executive Officer of North Yorkshire Sport and Chair of the Strategy Steering Group, said: “Changes in the way we have had to live our lives through the pandemic affected our lifestyles immediately. The physical activity environment around us changed instantly, our homes became our playground, school, and workplace. The way we accessed food also changed, panic buying was real and online purchasing increased. For some, food banks became a lifeline.”

The report covers the period of 2020, in which 69 new schools signed up to the North Yorkshire Healthy Schools scheme. The Virtual School Games Challenges were launched to allow many young people, parents and teachers to take part in a range of skills-related challenges. Activity packs designed to help people improve their physical and mental health were distributed to those most in need.

North Yorkshire’s adult weight management service continued to support residents to achieve their weight loss goals throughout the coronavirus pandemic. When restrictions were imposed in March 2020, face-to-face sessions came to an abrupt end, however, the service quickly adapted to offer online and virtual support. Find out more information about the adult weight management service.

Ourselves and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust expanded the Discoveries on Your Doorstep project during the pandemic. Its aim is to encourage people to make the most of the outdoors in their local area by offering a series of planned walking routes which take in heritage, cultural and natural landmarks.

County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Public Health, said: “Through adversity the North Yorkshire Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives partnership has shown resilience and determination in addressing the needs of our residents, particularly those who have been affected the most by the pandemic.

“Our lives are becoming more sedentary through the use of motorised transport and - particularly during the pandemic - the increased use of screens for work, education and recreation. Most of us could benefit from spending less time sitting down, and that applies even if you are keeping active.

“Some top tips to keep active include trying to take regular breaks from looking at a screen and standing instead of sitting when you can. Try getting up in every advert break when watching TV and plan some active time when you know you’ll be sitting for long periods. Small changes can make a big difference. Get more advice and support from NHS Better Health."

Since the start of the pandemic, evidence of links between weight status and Covid-19 outcomes continues to emerge and the Government is prioritising measures to tackle obesity.

There has been a commitment from the Prime Minister, through the publication of a national obesity strategy, to speed up policy change such as calorie labelling and price promotions, and provide additional funding to ensure adequate weight management service provision.

View a copy of the Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives Strategy and all annual reports.