Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it…! (MEND) is a Wales-wide scheme that helps children aged 7 to 13 and their families to lead healthier lives and lose weight in a fun and interactive way.
In the past twelve months, 514 families have been involved in MEND courses in Wales. Today’s event sees 15 children in Port Talbot graduating from the 10-week course.
Changes seen in children who have completed the MEND programme include weight loss; smaller waist sizes; increased fitness due to more exercise; less time spent watching TV and playing video games and improvements in self-esteem and confidence.
In the twice-weekly sessions, families learnt how to make healthier choices when shopping, how to cook nutritious, tasty meals and have taken part in activity sessions designed to increase their balance, agility, coordination and confidence.
As well as providing children with the opportunity to become healthier through small changes to their diet and increased physically activity, they also make new friends with other children in the same situation and parents build supportive networks in their local areas.
Thanks to £1.4 million of Welsh Assembly Government funding, the course now runs in 14 venues across Wales (increasing to 21 in January 2010).
Attending the anniversary event, Jane Wilkinson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales said:
“It can be really tough for children who are overweight, both physically and emotionally and it is important that we tackle this issue in Wales.
“Over the last year MEND has had some great successes, but there is still a lot to do. We need to develop healthy behaviours and habits in children from an early age but at the same time also support children who are already above a healthy weight through schemes like this.”
Paul Sacher, founder and research director of MEND, said:
“We are really thrilled with the results that we have seen in Wales and this just goes to show that the programme works.
“The teams across Wales are fantastic and really passionate and should be congratulated for the hard work and efforts and MEND look forward to a fitter, healthier and happier future across Wales.”
27 November 2009