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Helping Hampshire families to a healthy weight

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A programme to help families lead healthy and happy lives is coming to Hampshire.

The MEND programme (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition...Do It!) provides families with fun, interactive group sessions that promote healthy lifestyles, and address issues arising from being overweight. It helps families to understand the complexities of things such as food labelling, different types of food, how much you need, and fun ways to be active as a family.

The programme, commissioned by Public Health at Hampshire County Council, and co-ordinated by Sport Hampshire & IOW, is free to join.

Children can enjoy active play sessions as well as learn with their family about healthy food choices. Parents will also be invited to discuss ways to help encourage behaviour change such as reducing the amount of time their children spend watching television, and positive goal setting and rewards.

Programmes are being run across the county for children above a healthy weight with the first programme in Basingstoke nearing completion. There are programmes across the county for five to seven year-olds, and programmes for seven to 13 year-olds will also be held in Gosport, Havant, and Rushmoor.

Local data show that these four local areas have the highest number of children in Hampshire who are at an unhealthy weight.

Hampshire County Council Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Liz Fairhurst, said: "Being above a healthy weight during childhood can lead to serious problems later in life and increases the likelihood of developing conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

"The MEND approach is not a diet, and no foods are off-limits. It simply aims to empower children and adults to become fitter, healthier and happier through a greater understanding of food and exercise, and to reach or maintain a healthier weight."

Health professionals and teachers can refer families to the programme or they can encourage families to self-refer directly by visiting MEND. The sessions will be running in schools and leisure centres across the county.

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