The new role forms part of PHE's commitment to give every child the best start in life and to increase the number of primary school children who are at a ‘healthy weight’.
As child obesity programme manager for early years, Ms Lucas, who has specialist knowledge of maternity and early years public health issues, will work closely with early years settings, schools, primary care and health professionals to support measures that help families bring up their children with a ‘healthy weight’. This will include helping families, from pre-conception to the early years of their baby’s life, eat a balanced diet and get enough exercise.
She said, 'One in five children arrives at reception class either overweight or obese, and many of these children will not return to a healthy weight by the time they leave secondary school. We know from research that adults struggle to spot when a child is overweight as there are now so many more people who are obese that it is seen as the norm. But we also know the health risks associated with obesity, including type 2 diabetes.'
Prior to the role at PHE, Ms Lucas worked as an early years transition lead on public health at the London Borough of Hackney, and as a public health co-ordinator for children’s centres for Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.