We’re always hearing that childhood obesity is on the rise, and that the future is looking bleak.
But what happens when this issue is closer to home than we think?
Statistics from Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Primary Care Trust show that 8.5% of 4-5 year-olds and 15% of 10-11 year-olds in Test Valley are obese. In the long-term, this percentage could face health conditions such as asthma, type-2 diabetes and sleep apnoea, as well as heightened risks of heart problems.
Many reasons have been cited for the rise of these figures, but it seems that one of the most prominent is just the modern lifestyle.
‘This lifestyle,’ explains Valley Leisure community development manager Liz Murray, ‘is not necessarily a healthy one. Families are undertaking low levels of exercise together, and diets are not always as good as they should be.’
Added to this, high numbers of people still drive to school and work instead of walking or riding a bike, which doesn’t help to break the sedentary cycle.
Treating a child who is above a healthy weight can’t be done by focusing solely on the child. To have an impact, and to help the child enjoy the changes, family support is required – and a willingness to adapt.
Valley Leisure will be running free, fun healthy lifestyle courses at Andover Leisure Centre from the 17th September.
MEND, which stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do It!, has been developed by experts in child health to help children above a healthy weight become fitter, healthier and happier.
During the course, children will try new healthy snacks and take part in fun games and activities.
At the same time parents will learn fun new ways to play with their child, how to stop temper tantrums, and encourage healthy behaviour.
Liz says: “Encouraging your child to eat healthily can be tough for parents. At MEND, parents can learn how to make small changes to the food their family eats. It also develops more creative ways to get their child more active.
“Children leave MEND with more energy and brimming with self-confidence, while parents have the certainty and enthusiasm to continue with the healthy changes long after the programme has ended.”
Parents who think their child or children are above a healthy weight, and would like to register for MEND, should contact Liz Murray on 01264 347113.
Places are limited, and booking is highly recommended.