Hundreds of families will be encouraged to live healthy lives thanks to a new programme designed to tackle childhood obesity.

Wolverhampton City Council's Public Health team has received funding totalling £200,000 from the British Heart Foundation to launch Hearty Lives Wolverhampton, an innovative 3 year scheme to support around 380 of Wolverhampton's most vulnerable families.

Hearty Lives is set to target parents with a child who is subject to either a Child in Need or Child Protection Plan and also has weight management issues after it was found that children on the child protection register generally have worse health than the wider population.

Key workers will offer practical support over a 6 week period to enable families to lead healthier lifestyles, educating them about the importance of healthy eating and exercise and giving them opportunities to improve their diet and exercise.

The advisers will provide hands on education to children and parents about cooking healthy meals and trying new foods. They'll also help families to eat well on a budget, give advice on the importance of eating together as a family and support them to take part in physical activities.

Social care staff will also get training so that they can continue to give out healthy lifestyle messages which families can work towards in the future.

Councillor Sandra Samuels, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being, said: "Taking a few easy steps can make a huge difference to individuals' lifestyles - and very often all they need is to be pointed in the right direction.

"Evidence suggests that doing simple things such as getting families to spend time reading the nutritional information on food packaging can be among the most useful in terms of getting them to eat more healthily.

"We think the Healthy Lives programme will make a significant difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the city by making them and their families aware of the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity, and in turn reduce the risk of cardio vascular disease among children and their parents."

British Heart Foundation Chief Executive Simon Gillespie said: "Many of our children are in grave danger of developing coronary heart disease in the future if they continue to live the same lifestyle. This is simply unacceptable.

"Through our new Hearty Lives projects we are committed to working with local communities to give young people most at risk of heart disease a healthier start in life. By ensuring children develop healthy habits now, we can give them a fighting chance of avoiding serious ill health in the future."

Over the next 3 years, around 380 families are expected to take part in the scheme and Councillor Samuels added: "This is a very different approach to anything that's previously been tried in Wolverhampton, and we're very hopeful that it will have a lasting impact on families in the city because healthy children will make for healthy adults."

Hearty Lives Wolverhampton will officially be launched at a conference about improving health and reducing inequalities taking place in the city next month.

  • released: Tuesday 20 August, 2013