Obesity in children is a major public health issue and currently one in three children living in the UK are thought to be either moderately or seriously overweight. Early childhood is particularly important since there is evidence to suggest that most excess weight is gained before starting school. In fact, a child who is overweight at any point during the pre-school years is much more likely to be obese as an adult. This is of particular concern because people who have been overweight as a child are more likely to have poor health in adult life. Habits adopted in early childhood soon become established and carry on into adult life. So, it is particularly important to encourage lifestyle behaviours in young children that will help protect long-term health.
The Trim Tots healthy lifestyle programme has been developed by a team of child health professionals from the Institute of Child Health together with a team of community artists, experienced in delivering educational art workshops to young children. The focus is on prevention rather than treatment of obesity. The aim of this evidence based community programme is to promote a healthy lifestyle both in pre-school children, aged between one and five, and their carers. The 24-week intervention is delivered as one two hour session per week over a 24 week period. The programme includes nutrition education, physical activity and behaviour change components with an emphasis on family involvement and learning through art and play.
The programme is divided into two stages. The first 12 weeks learning about healthy eating and physical activity is followed by 12 weeks practical consolidation. During the first 12 weeks, families attend one weekly two-hour main session which follows the same format each week. Families will be engaged in interactie workshops including art, music and movement, healthy snacks and cooking, creative play activities known as Funbursts, and interactive nutrition sessions known as WaistWise. The nutrition sessions aim to teach adults, (parents and carers of children under 5) the basics of nutrition and the principles underlying a healthy diet. Behaviour has an important influence on lifestyle and WaistWise teaches adults how small steps can be taken to change behaviour.
At the end of the programme, families will have shared many experiences, learned songs to sing together, movements to move together, recipes to cook together, and games to play together. Every family will receive a Trim Town take-away pack including a full set of 24 WaistWise nutrition fact sheets, a Trim Tots Recipe Book, funbursts play equipment, a recycled art kit and the fun-packed Planet Munch CD enabling and supporting continued practice of new learned skills in the home and community.
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