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Childhood obesity tackled

23rd April 2007

Obesity in young children can be curbed if the whole family adopts a healthier lifestyle, says a new report.

Obvious as it may sound, if a family adopts more balanced attitudes towards diet and exercise obese youngsters will become healthier according to researchers. Young people who took part in a 9-week exercise, nutrition, motivation and positive thinking trial with their parents were found to be still benefiting from the scheme 12 months after the trial finished. Researchers found improvements in the children's body mass index, waist circumference, fitness, lifestyle and self-esteem having taken part in the programme. The team now plans to conduct a larger study over a longer period of time to see if healthier attitudes can be sustained.

Thirty per cent of UK children are now obese or overweight which equates to 1.8 million overweight children and 700,000 suffering with obesity. Weight issues cost the UK £7 billion annually. Professor Alan Lucas, from the Medical Research Council Childhood Nutrition Research Centre at University College London (UCL) Institute of Child Health said, “[Obesity] is an immense public health issue in both immediate and long term health."

Another UCL scientist Paul Sacher who developed the MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it!) programme trialled by the families said he put the success of his scheme down to the fact that it not just about food. “The MEND programme is not a diet but rather helps overweight children and their families build a foundation for healthy living - for life," he added.

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