Solving child obesity is a family affair in Islington

Nine-year-old Adam Tubbs, who has been helped by the scheme

Nine-year-old Adam Tubbs, who has been helped by the scheme - Credit: Archant

Educating families is at the centre of the borough’s assault on childhood obesity, according to the group charged with improving young people’s health.

Parents and siblings of overweight children have been undergoing 10-week programmes as a family, where they exercise and learn about healthy lifestyles.

The service, run by More Life, is designed to tackle the root of the problem and ensure that parents act as good role models for their children.

Holistic approach

It comes as figures recently showed that high levels of child obesity in the borough had not reduced in the last year, with nearly 22 per cent of 10 and 11-year-olds and 11 per cent of four to five-year-olds in Islington considered obese.

Megan Baird, programme manager for More Life who were employed by Islington CCG in April 2013, said: “We’re adopting a holistic, family approach in that we ask family members to come along with the children.

“We need to get the nutritional information and education to the parents as well because in effect they are the teachers.

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“Siblings can come as well, regardless of their weight. It’s about promoting healthy living within the family.

“In the end it’s the parents who are going to have to do it – they’re the role models.”

On the More Life team – who will be working with 42 families in the current 10-week cycle which started on Tuesday – are nutritionists, fitness experts and psychologists who mentor and offer advice at one two-hour session a week.

Children who are overweight can be referred to the service by doctors or through their schools, but a lot of the children being helped have been found through More Life’s work in the community.

“We’re really increasing our uptake each time,” said Miss Baird.

“Most of the children come from our engagement with the community, which includes working with schools and putting information in school book bags.

Success stories

“We’ve had quite a few success stories already where there has been a real impact on individuals.”

More Life are also running six-day intensive holiday clubs and have a further service for children who are considered obese – which involves a four-phase tailored service.

Other borough schemes to tackle obesity include free school meals which has now been rolled out by the government and programmes to support cooking and nutrition skills in schools.