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Opportunity For Families In York To Get Healthy

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8:46am 29th October 2014

Fit Together has been developed by the council’s sport and active leisure and public health teams to continue the work to reduce the number of over weight and obese children in York. The programme was designed through consultation with families, local community partners and a multi-disciplinary team of professionals using the NICE Guidelines* and in association with the Government's ‘Change4Life’ campaign.

The Children and Young People’s Weight Management Pilot Programme was held at Burnholme Community College and was designed to be a fun and interactive 10 week programme to help address the issue of increasing childhood obesity, which is becoming more prevalent nationwide.

Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism said:

“This programme is designed to help children who are overweight or very overweight and is a timely intervention to help the whole family to make positive changes in their lives. For two hours a week the children and young people enjoyed fun and active games, often with their parents and siblings taking part too. They also received educational advice about healthy eating and lifestyles, positive parenting skills, cooking, behaviour change, self confidence and eating habits. Feedback shows that the programme has been very well received by the whole family.”

One parent who attended the programme said:

“We all got a lot out of the programme. The encouragement, exchange of ideas and best practice really helped us to change our outlook on eating, portion control, and perhaps most importantly, buying the right products in the first place”.

In 2012/2013, 21.2% of reception class pupils in York and 30.5% of Year 6 pupils were classed as overweight or obese according to the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), that the council now has responsibility for. Whilst the figures show that York is below the England average for both reception and Year 6 age children, the council considers that the number of children being classed as overweight and obese is too many and the pilot was run to help address this.

National research shows that sport and physical activity in schoolchildren can help academic achievement, concentration and self confidence as well as weight loss and helps to prevent future disease. It is recommended that all children should aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Families were referred onto the pilot programme through school nurses, school pastoral workers and social workers as well as self referrals. The initial findings from the pilot programme indicate that it has been effective in encouraging positive eating habits and behaviours and increasing self esteem, and further monitoring will take place to establish longer term changes to BMI (Body Mass Index), waist measurement, fitness, and improvements in eating and physical activity.

Families who would like to be part of the next programme should contact Marie or Thomas on marie.neal@york.gov.uk or thomas.jackson@york.gov.uk or telephone 01904 553377.

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