Youngsters join slimming group to beat growing obesity trend

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 September 2013

More children than ever before attending weight loss groups, according to Slimming World

More children than ever before attending weight loss groups, according to Slimming World

Archant

MORE children in Weston are obese than ever before, according to a local weight loss group.

Slimming World has members as young as 11 attending its meetings, since it extended its membership to under-16s in 2006. It developed a special programme, free2go, specifically for younger members.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, more than a fifth of children aged four to five are overweight, and more than one in three children aged 10-11.

Of these, almost 20 per cent of children aged 10-11 were considered medically obese.

Amy Baker, who runs Slimming World in Locking Castle, said: “As childhood obesity increases, Slimming World has welcomed more and more young members into its groups.

“Having been an overweight child myself, I know how hard it can be, and the effect it has on your confidence and other aspects of everyday life.”

Ella Selby, aged 12, of Weston, attends the group in Locking Castle once a week. She said: “I love going to the group. At first I was worried everyone would look at me because I am younger, but that’s not the case.”

Jenny Read, aged 15, of Weston, also attends the group. She joined with her mum, who also had concerns about her weight.

She said: “Last week I managed to achieve my half stone award. Before I went to Slimming World, all the activity I did was at school, now I go swimming, go to the gym and found out how much fun roller-skating is.”

Every year in North Somerset, children aged four to five years old and 10-11 have their BMI calculated as part of the National Child Measurement Programme. About eight per cent of four to five-year-olds are considered obese, which almost doubles to 15.6 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds in the category.

A North Somerset Council public health spokesman said although the authority could not comment on private slimming groups, they do refer people aged 16 and older to the sessions if they are eligible.

She said: “Our approach to supporting healthy weight in children has also involved working with parents to promote healthy cooking skills and healthy weight, supporting schools to promote healthier school environments and providing more tailored support programmes for children who are overweight and obese.”

Although obesity in children aged four to five years old has risen from seven per cent to 8.1 per cent, the childhood obesity rates for North Somerset are lower than the national average.

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