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MoreLife and Childhood Obesity Week

We have helped thousands of children and young people eat healthier and get active. For the past 20 years, it’s been a fundamental part of the work we do here at MoreLife.

With it being Childhood Obesity Week, we thought this was the perfect time to explain our latest research to you. We pride ourselves on being powered by science and we’re constantly researching to see how we can improve.

Our team partnered up with Leeds Beckett University to develop a 6-week programme, designed to help children and young people with weight and understand the different elements of a healthy lifestyle. 

You may be thinking that six weeks isn’t that long. However, research has shown this is a great length of time as it keeps children engaged and motivated throughout the course. Despite it being a short-term programme, the plan was to help the kids develop long-term habits.

The programme was delivered in 130 schools, with over 5,000 kids taking part.

There haven’t been many studies like this in the UK before, in fact, we were one of the first to try it.

We were thrilled with the results. Overall, there was an average BMI SDS loss of 0.07. It may seem like a small number but it shows, on average, that children were able to lose weight thanks to the programme. This kind of intervention in schools can make a real difference.

There were three different programmes, each designed for specific age groups.  We were supporting children and young people aged between 4 and 19-years-old and we wanted to ensure everyone involved would understand and get on board with the materials.

Each week there was a different lesson. Children were taught about portion sizes, healthy snacks and how to read food labels and sugary drinks. However, we’re firm believers in the fact there’s more to health than weight loss. So the programme also explored moving more, sitting less, and the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.

The workshop-style lessons were delivered by the OneLife Suffolk team. They also worked with and supported the teachers so they could help answer any questions the kids would have. Parents were also invited to attend training and were given a manual to have at home. 

Primary school girl, holding a ball, smiling

There haven’t been many studies like this in the UK before, in fact, we were one of the first to try it

Healthy diets for children

“With the right support and resources, we can make real changes and help young people.”

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt during our two decades of doing this, there is strength in community.

Professor Paul Gately, CEO of MoreLife and Professor of Obesity and Exercise at Leeds Beckett University said: “Through all my years of helping people with weight loss, I’ve always believed the importance of kindness and understanding. We want to create environments people feel safe and understood. No matter how old our clients are, we want them to feel like they’re being looked after.”

How did we gather the results from the programme?

The programme measured the height and weight of children before and after the six weeks. This was used to calculate their BMI. At the end of the six weeks, results showed significant weight loss and weight change categories across all schools involved.

Two-thirds of the kids involved lost or maintained weight. This shows this kind of programme is packed with potential to help the kids who need it.

Matt, who took part in the six-week programme lost 4kg. He cut down how much milk he drank, started eating healthier snacks, and walked a mile to school. He said: “I am more confident and happier. I was even able to stand up in assembly to read a poem which I would not have been able to do before due to my anxiety- this made my mum cry.”

We’d love to help more children like Matt.

Childhood obesity is a growing problem here in the UK. Yet despite the data showing that works need to be done, very few services are in place to help children.

That’s why it’s so important to get involved in the schools. It creates an equal playing field, where children from all backgrounds can learn important lifestyle lessons. We’re so proud of this programme and would love to see it delivered in more schools.

Professor Gately went on to say: “This study goes to show that with the right support and resources, we can make real changes and help young people. The evidence all points in the same direction. If this kind of programme was introduced nationwide, we could make an impact in reducing childhood obesity.”

In the meantime, we’re going to keep researching and figuring out ways we can help as many people as possible. If you’re interested in our services, you can find out more here. To find out more about the study, you can click right here.

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