Azara Blog: A programme aimed at obese children

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Date published: 2007/04/22

The BBC says:

A community programme which aims to encourage obese children to be more healthy has proved highly successful, a study has found.

A year after the nine-week programme, the eight to 12-year-olds were fitter healthier, and more confident.

Details of the Mend programme, now running in 100 areas across England, will be presented to an obesity conference in Budapest on Monday.

One expert said the scheme could underpin work to cut childhood obesity.

Around 30% of UK children are now considered to be overweight or obese.

The trial of the Mend programme (which stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do-it!) involved 107 moderately obese children.

The programme involves the whole family and aims to teach both parents and children about healthy attitudes and behaviours relating to eating and activity, and to help children see being active as fun.

About 1,000 children have now been through the Mend programme.
...
Over the next three years, it is hoped 26,000 can take part in 300 areas.

Funding for the scheme, which will cost £11m in total, is coming from the Big Lottery Fund, Sainsbury's and Sport England.

There is hardly a government (or any other organisation) programme which isn't claimed to be a great success. The question here is whether the programme is value for money (always the first thing to ask, which the chattering classes never do), and whether the impact is permanent or temporary, and whether it will scale up (hopefully it will). But when you take a dedicated team with a small number of participants you can get a good result for almost anything you care to measure. The quoted cost for the next three years comes in at over 400 pounds per child, which is not insignificant. If you threw that much money at individual maths tuition (or whatever) you would not be surprised to find those results getting better as well.

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