Mar 07 2011

Family healthy weight management programme making a difference in Wales

Children and young people who took part in the first all-Wales weight management programme are exercising more, eating healthier and spending less time watching TV and playing computer games, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales announced today.


Dr. Tony Jewell said that more than 2,000 children and parents in Wales have benefited from the Welsh Assembly Government-funded MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition... Do It!) Programme.





The £1.4million scheme, launched in Wales in 2008, is designed to help children who are above a healthy weight become fitter, healthier and happier. Since its launch, 96 ten-week MEND programmes have been delivered across Wales.



MEND targets children between the age of 7 and 13 and their families. They will learn how to eat more healthily, read food labels and make their weekly shop healthier and easier. The children also take part in fun physical activity sessions.



MEND complements Change4Life, which is designed to support families to eat well, move more and live longer. If we carry on as we are, the risk of children developing life-threatening diseases later in life like type 2 diabetes, cancer or heart disease is much higher. So it is really important to start changing today.



Initial results found that following participation in the MEND Programme:



children were undertaking on average, 4.7 hours more physical activity per week;



spending 6.1 fewer hours a week – down from 15.7 to 9.5 hours per week on average – undertaking sedentary activities such as watching television, using computers or playing game consoles; waist circumference, an indicator of abdominal fat, was reduced on average by 2.2 cm following the end of the programme.



Body Mass Index (BMI) decreased from 28 kg/m2 before the programme to 27.2 kg/m2 after the programme, leading to a mean 0.8 BMI unit reduction.



The Chief Medical Officer for Wales. Dr. Tony Jewell said: "Being overweight can be tough for children both physically and emotionally. Caring for an overweight or obese child can be difficult too, especially if they lack confidence or feel depressed because of their size.



"The MEND Programme has proven to be successful in supporting children and their families to eat healthier and be more active as part of their daily routine.



"Significant outcomes have been demonstrated in the Programme’s first two years. We’ve found that, on average, participants were generally fitter by the end of the programme. In addition to the lifestyle changes, reductions in waist circumference, an indicator of abdominal fat, and BMI have been achieved over the short period of time that the children attend the course.  



"We have evidence that shows the MEND Programme raises individuals’ self esteem and supports them in making healthier choices. Overweight or obese children are also more likely to be overweight or obese adults."



Kara, aged 13, attended a MEND Programme in Cardiff with her mum, Ceri, which started in January 2009. Kara and Ceri attended the free 10 week programme together and found the sessions really enjoyable and useful. Kara’s whole family has benefitted from taking part in MEND.



Ceri says: "We both enjoyed doing weekly exercise, taking part in cookery sessions and learning about what goes into the food we regularly buy at the supermarket."



"We have learnt so much and now realise how important it is to cook from scratch. It is great to be able to sit down and eat what we have made together as a family. We are also much more knowledgeable about what goes into the food we buy and we have made the decision to stop buying junk food."



Kara has been inspired by MEND and now loves experimenting with recipes and cooking.



"Since MEND has showed her the differences between healthy food and junk food, she now chooses healthy snacks and I don’t have to lecture her to do it" says Ceri.



"Kara definitely gained confidence when she realised she had lost weight and saw the direct link between eating healthily and being physically active."



Kate Underwood, MEND’s Regional Manager in Wales said: "Thanks to the Welsh Assembly Government’s vital support, MEND has changed the lives of families across Wales - encouraging them to be more active and choose healthier options.



"MEND is a fun, free way for families to improve their health and fitness and is the first programme to significantly improve the weight, self-esteem and activity levels of children in Wales. We look forward to working with the Welsh Assembly Government in the future to help more families become fitter, healthier and happier."










Notes to editors




To speak to a MEND case study family in your region please contact Claire Nevill, MEND Senior Media and Communications Officer at:

or on 0207 231 7225

MEND’s Healthy Lifestyle courses are available across Wales, to register on to your local Programme call today on 0800 2300 263 or visit




About MEND





·         MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition...Do it!) is a social enterprise that runs free, fun healthy lifestyle programmes for families with children aged between two and 13 years



·         Since it was founded in 2004, MEND has helped over 20,000 families to become fitter, healthier and happier by providing information about healthy eating and how to keep active.



·         Developed in partnership with child health experts at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University College London’s Institute of Child Health, independent research shows that the MEND 7-13 Programme helps children lose weight and improve their fitness and self-esteem



·         A National Third Sector Partner of the Change4Life campaign, MEND’s free healthy lifestyle programmes are delivered across the UK by a range of public and private sector partners.


·         For more information, visit















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