Dec 16 2011

Healthy ways to enjoy the Christmas festivities

Local healthy lifestyle programme offers top tips for a healthier Christmas

Christmas is a time of celebration, when families come together over a good meal and cold weather keeps everyone inside and wrapped up warm. But for some children and their families who are trying to manage their weight, this combination can be a challenge.
One in three children is currently overweight with adult obesity rates considerably higher. This year local healthy lifestyle programme MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition...Do It!) has launched a set of top tips to help families get up and active over the holiday season. The childhood obesity experts’ Advent Activities are designed to give families ideas of how to get everyone on their feet and having fun no matter what the family budget.
Jennifer Rosborough, public health nutritionist at MEND, said:  “Every year we receive lots of questions from families about how they can celebrate the festivities and enjoy their Christmas dinner while staying healthy. So at MEND, rather than turning into the Grinch and banning all your favourite Christmas foods, we came up with our top Advent Activities to help keep your family moving over the holidays, even on a budget.”
MEND’s Advent Activities:
1.    Take a Christmas walk
It may be cold outside but a great way to wake yourself up and start feeling less full after Christmas dinner is to take a family walk. Try telling and acting out stories or reading out your cracker jokes as you walk along to make it even more enjoyable.
2.    Take part in an indoor treasure hunt
Hide some healthy Christmas treats or even the kids’ stockings around the house with clues where to find them. The kids will love hunting for them.

3.    Santa’s Skittles
Try using empty plastic bottles as skittles and use a ball made from left over wrapping paper to knock them over.  If you fancy getting creative, you could also decorate your bottles and see who can make the best ‘Santa Skittle’.

4.    Charades
Famous for making families wave their arms about madly and leap up and down with the answers, this game is a fantastic way of getting everyone active while having lots of fun.

5.    Pass the Parcel
This is always a fun game, especially at Christmas when you have all that used wrapping paper lying around. To get the family more active play it standing up and do star jumps if you’re lucky enough to get the parcel!

6.    Tea Bag Stockings
Hang one of the kid’s stockings on a coat peg or a draw handle and arm the kids with three tea bags each. The aim of the game is to get as many of the tea bags as they can into the stocking. The winner gets the stocking’s satsuma as a healthy treat.  

7.    Christmas Karaoke
Even without a karaoke machine this is a great way to get the kids on their feet, singing and dancing along to festive songs. See if you can encourage them to make up dance routines for even more festive fun.  You could even try a dance-off between the kids and the adults!

8.    Carol Singing
Take the kids carol singing around your neighbourhood. Even if you only visit a couple of houses they’ll still have a great walk and really enjoy themselves.

MEND’s 10-week healthy lifestyle programme is available in the new year to families with children aged between 2 and 13 years. The sessions take place after school twice a week and improve fitness and overall health. The free course, which was developed in partnership with child health experts at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, includes fun activities and games for the kids and interactive sessions on healthy eating for the whole family.
If you think your child is over a healthy weight and you’d like to find out more about your local MEND programme call 0800 2300 263 or go to


Notes to editors

For media enquiries or to speak with a case study family, please contact Lucy Hannagan or Claire Nevill on 020 7231 7225 or  For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07872 506996.
About MEND
•    MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition...Do it!) is the leading provider of free healthy lifestyle programmes for families in local communities.
•    MEND works with public, private and third sector partners to provide a range of healthy lifestyle programmes for families with children aged between two and 13 years (MEND 2-4, MEND 5-7 and MEND 7-13).
•    Since it was founded in 2004, MEND has helped over 25,000 families across the UK 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 reduce their BMI and improve their fitness and self-esteem.

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