Posted: Thursday 15th June 2017
It’s Healthy Eating Week so it’s time to put away the biscuits! Research has shown that even small, realistic lifestyle changes can make a huge and positive difference to our physical and mental wellbeing.
In recent years, childhood obesity has become a major concern. In 2013/14, over a fifth of four and five year-olds and one in three 10 and 11 year-olds in England were overweight or obese. Treating obesity and its consequences costs the NHS £5.1bn every year.
Hertfordshire County Council commissions Beezee Bodies, a countywide organisation that works with families who have a child who is overweight or obese to help them develop a healthier lifestyle. So far, more than 200 children and their families have benefitted from this programme in Hertfordshire.
Hertfordshire Dad Chris Lea attributes Beezee Bodies with helping him to transform his lifestyle and eating habits for the better. Tragically, his wife died of cancer when their son Ross was just eight years old and he suddenly found himself a single parent and in complete despair. As a result, the physical and mental health of both Chris and Ross began to suffer.
He said: “My wife had cooked all the food for 20 years and I didn’t have a clue what to do. Ross and I were eating far too much of all the wrong food - he used to call me Captain Birdseye!
“Ross’s weight was flagged up through the weight checks at school and I was put in touch with Beezee Bodies. I can’t tell you how much this changed my life, they were absolutely fantastic.”
He explains that the staff was really supportive and helped Chris adopt a much more positive relationship with food and exercise.
“The staff really cared about us and went above and beyond to help us turn our lives around. Each week, we learnt something new including how to choose the correct portion sizes, shop for healthier food and cook healthy recipes. Also, every week we did some kind of physical activity.”
The programme also strengthened Chris’s bond with his son. “The great thing about the scheme is that Ross and I were a team – we were learning together, so we kept each other motivated. In fact, it was often Ross who encouraged me and kept me on track,” he said.
Director of Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, Jim Mc Manus, said: “If a child is overweight, they are much more likely to get life-threatening conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking part in physical activity helps children to develop long-term healthy habits and maintain a healthy weight.”
Beezee Bodies offers a 17-week programme, consisting of two hours one evening a week, which offers free advice about healthy living designed around the whole family.
Hertfordshire County Council has many programmes in place for families and children to help them develop healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. Find out what’s on offer at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/healthinherts
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