Under the spotlight: Healthy Weight Service

25 Aug 2017 Max Hickling

What? Healthy Weight Service for children and young people.

Who? Specialist nurses who assess and support children and young people aged between 2 and 16 years old who are above their ideal weight.

How? Children are referred to the service by another health care professional like a health visitor, school nurse, GP or paediatric consultant. The team helps children, young people and their families plan healthy lifestyle changes like diet and activity levels, and signpost to other community services if necessary. They usually meet the family in their home, school or nursery. Families will have up to 12 appointments over the course of a year.

Why? “We are passionate about supporting our clients at an early age and preventing the long-term health impacts of being overweight,” say Helen and Rachel, nurses from the Healthy Weight Service. “We know that this is a sensitive matter for both the child and the family, but we are a really friendly team and support the whole family in this journey.”

“Many of our clients find that with support they do make real changes, which in turn helps them develop confidence and raise their self-esteem. It is often the small changes over time that make a difference.”

Top tips to get healthy as a family

1. Eat at the table together
Studies show families who have regular meals at the table with no distractions (like television) are more likely to be a healthy weight.

2. Include children in family activities
Such as walking the dog, washing the car, mowing the lawn, or a bike ride.

3. Swap sugary drinks
Persuade your children to drink water instead. Fizzy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks and even milky drinks can have hidden sugar.

4. Make sure the whole family eats breakfast every day
Children who eat breakfast are less likely to have unhealthy snacks later in the day.

5. Decrease screen time – and put physical activity in its place
Get active as a family by walking, cycling, going to the park or playground, or swimming together.

6. Get active on holiday – it’s the perfect time to get fit and have fun
You could try a specific activity-focused break, such as cycling or hiking, or choose a destination where you can do a variety of activities.

7. Prepare more meals at home
It takes a little longer, but this way you can control what you put in food.

8. Have healthier takeaways
You don’t have to give up takeaways completely, just make smarter choices. Try ordering lower-fat pizza toppings like vegetables, ham and prawns instead of salami and four-cheese.

9. Avoid oversized portions
Portion sizes have increased over the years and it’s one of the reasons children become overweight. Start meals with small servings and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry.

10. Walk for charity
Doing regular charity walks is a great way for the whole family to get fit

Helping families make positive changes for life: Rachel Halder (left) and Helen Cook


For more tips on eating healthily as a family visit www.nhs.uk