Karen’s reaction when her seven-year old son was invited to join a child weight management programme at his school was not what you might have expected.
Rather than be angry, or offended, Karen saw it as an opportunity to change her son’s relationship with food and prevent him picking up her previously poor eating habits.
The pair enrolled on the 10-week course for five to 13-year-olds in which parents or carers and their children learn about healthier eating and being more active. The One You Ealing programme for children and their parents/carers is commissioned by Ealing Council. The next one will be running in January.
Karen said: “I looked on it as an opportunity, because he had a tendency to ‘comfort eat’ and I had suffered with my weight all my life. Unfortunately, there was nothing like this when I was young.”
During a typical session children and parents would learn about the basics of healthy eating such as how to read labels on products and healthy portion control. Children would then leave the adults to take part in an hour of team games and fun, physical activity.
‘He enjoyed judo, but now he’s even more active’
Karen said: “James* was already active before we started the course. For instance he enjoyed judo, but now he’s even more active and really enjoying it.
“James has also learnt to recognise the difference between being hungry and just having a sugary craving. Now he gives himself time rather than having something sweet straight away. For example, he has a glass of water and perhaps does something else before forgetting all about the craving.”
Karen’s shopping habits have become healthier thanks to the programme which has made them more aware of what they are eating.
“My budget hasn’t changed but now I write menus for the week before I go shopping so that I know what I need to buy and we’ve turned from eating white rice, pasta and bread to brown which my son loves. We also eat more fruit and vegetables.”
Karen will be speaking about her family’s experience on the programme at the Great Weight Debate being held at Ealing Town Hall on Wednesday (16 November). The event hosted by Ealing Council will bring together nutrition experts, teachers, voluntary organisations and politicians to discuss how best to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. Similar events for the public will be held in the New Year.
‘It is about helping children and families together’
Ealing Council’s cabinet member for health and adults’ services, Councillor Hitesh Tailor said: “Finding solutions to reduce childhood obesity is about helping children and families together. We know from research that children who are overweight or obese are more likely to have weight problems as an adult – putting them at greater risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and type two diabetes.”
Councillor Binda Rai, cabinet member for children and young people, added: “It is important that we make it fun for children, which is why we have introduced schemes such as the Daily Mile at 13 of our primary schools where pupils are encouraged to run or walk a mile a day around a specially painted track and more schools are set to introduce it. As part of the weight management programme children also get to make their own healthy snacks. I am looking forward to hearing some of the ideas which come from the Great Weight Debate.”
The One You Ealing child weight management team will be running its next free healthy lifestyle programmes for children and their parents/carers from January. One You Ealing is commissioned by Ealing Council.
Children must live, go to school or be registered with a GP in Ealing and have a body mass index above the 91st centile. The service can calculate this over the phone if they have a recent height and weight measurement for the child. For more information visit One You Ealing’s website or to book a place call 020 8354 8032
To take part in the London-wide Great Weight Debate Survey http://gethealthy.london/greatweightdebate/
* James is not Karen’s son’s real name