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Success for pilot scheme to help obese children in Northern Ireland

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A pilot programme to tackle the issue of obesity in children diagnosed as either overweight or clinically obese has been a success in Northern Ireland.

The Causeway Trust, in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, has developed Family, Fun, Food and Fitness to encourage greater activity in children between the ages of six and 11 years old.

The pilot scheme, run in partnership with the local council-operated Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, was attended by 16 children and their parents, two hours a week for 12 weeks between January and March.

Children – who were referred to the programme by paediatric dieticians at the trust – were provided with activities such as games, swimming, karate, mini-golf and mini-athletics, alongside interactive nutrition workshops.

Parents, meanwhile, were provided with the opportunity to attend a specialist six-week Cook It programme and advised on lifestyle changes for the future.

The scheme resulted in a confirmed reduction in the BMI (Body Mass Index) of 13 out of the 16 children at the end of the 12-week project.

The project was initiated by Aine Toman, a paediatric dietician at the Causeway Trust. In partnership with dietician Alison McKee, the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre and the Northern Area Physical Activity Strategy Co-ordinator, Toman submitted a successful bid to the Northern Investing for Health Partnership to provide funding for the pilot.

Toman said: “I am pleased to announce that, due to the success of the first pilot project, funding has been acquired from the Northern Investing for Health Partnership to carry out a second programme in the autumn.” Details: www.chsst.n-i.nhs.uk

Photograph: Aine Toman, paediatric dietician, with physical training instructor Melanie Archibald from the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, and some of the children on the Family, Fun, Food and Fitness pilot programme

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A pilot programme to tackle the issue of obesity in children diagnosed as either overweight or clinically obese has been a success in Northern Ireland.
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