Tackling obesity to give best Start4Life
A NEW programme will aim to tackle high obesity levels among children and pregnant women in North Lincolnshire.
Maternal and childhood obesity levels in the region are above the national average.
Now, concerned bosses at North Lincolnshire Council and NHS North Lincolnshire are looking to appoint a specialist advisory worker to develop a Start4Life programme.
The scheme is set to cost £28,806 and will be funded by NHS North Lincolnshire.
It will deliver advice, support and practical sessions in physical activity and healthy lifestyles to expectant mums, those who have recently given birth and their children.
Frances Cunning, North Lincolnshire's director of public health, said a healthy diet was an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time.
But she said it was especially vital during pregnancy.
She said: "Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow and will keep you fit and well.
"Achieving a healthier weight is a fantastic gift to share with your children.
"As well as improving your own health and wellbeing, your children are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and be physically active.
"This improves their chance of growing into healthy adults and minimises the risk of serious health conditions."
A North Lincolnshire Council report shows between 2009 and 2011, 58 per cent of expectant mothers across the region were classed as being an unhealthy weight.
The areas in North Lincolnshire where obesity levels are highest were shown to be Scunthorpe and Barton.
The report said consultations with midwives and health visitors showed a need to increase levels of physical activity to address maternal and childhood obesity.
It also showed parents in Scunthorpe had identified a need for more activities to be made available to children under the age of five.
Ms Cunning said: "The younger children are when they become obese, the longer they are likely to be living with this risk factor, and so the greater the risk of them developing weight-related physical and mental health problems at a younger age.
"Hence the need for a continued focus on unhealthy weight in children and young people."
Councillor Carl Sherwood, the authority's cabinet member for customer services, sport and leisure, said healthier lifestyles had to be encouraged.
He said: "We know obesity is a real problem locally and are determined to work with families to try and minimise the long term health risks to young people that obesity can bring.
"Sport and exercise plays an important role in a young life and this needs to be encouraged to tackle the problem."