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Tackling the issue of obesity in Medway

Date: 23/01/2008           Category: Public Health

Today (Wednesday, 23 January) sees the launch of a national obesity strategy for the UK. Launched by Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson, the Government's Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy aims to help people make healthier food choices and do more exercise. Here in Medway there are a number of schemes to help tackle obesity. This month (January) sees the launch of a new support service for obese people. Called Tipping the Balance, the aim of the service is to help otherwise healthy people to lose weight, increase activity, improve self-esteem and to prevent the long-term complications of obesity. Clinics will be held in a variety of non-medical settings including shopping centres and leisure centres. The first clinic will be launched on the Tuesday, 29 January at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre. The clinics will be run by a nurse and healthcare assistant who will do health assessments and offer advice, counselling and support. A GP will also attend to offer clients medical advice. A programme of additional activities will be developed including supermarket tours, cookery classes, and walking groups to encourage members to socialise. Referral to the service is via GPs. If you would like to join the scheme, please contact your GP. A new MEND programme is launched next month (February). Run by Medway Council’s Public Health team, MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition Do it!) runs throughout the year and is a community, family based programme for overweight and obese children aged between seven and 13 and their families. MEND is not a diet and does not encourage rapid weight loss. Its main aim is to give children the power to make life changes in terms of physical activity, food, self-confidence and personal development which will deliver improvements in families’ diets, fitness levels and overall health. The next MEND sessions are held at High Halstow Primary School on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5pm to 7pm. Two more programmes start in April. One at the Black Lion Leisure Centre, Gillingham on Mondays and Thursdays 5pm to 7pm, and also at Oaklands Junior School, Weedswood Road, Walderslade, Tuesdays and Fridays 5pm to 7pm. For more details about MEND please contact Faye Newman 01634 333741. The public health team also runs the 4Life programme. It’s free to join and aimed at helping families get information about local services including how to quit smoking, be more active and eat a healthier diet. The scheme also organises leisure and health-related activities. The 4Life team are currently working in the All Saints area of Chatham, and Twydall. The scheme will extend into Strood next month (February). If you would like to become a member or find out more about the programme, please call the 4Life team on 01634 333720.