The recent announcement of new NICE guidelines for the better management of weight and obesity among children and young people has been welcomed by a free online health tracking service that is already helping families to become healthier and more active.
Key to the new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) public health guidance 47 on “Managing overweight and obesity among children and young people: lifestyle weight management services” is the recognition that childhood obesity is not currently being addressed in the long-term in England. Current childhood rates of obesity are levelling off, with three in every ten children aged between 2 and 15 years being overweight or obese.
The NICE guidelines encourage both parents and children to self-monitor from home, tracking their activity, meals, snacks, and sedentary behaviours. It is hoped that parents can better address unhealthy habits and encourage habitual activity and better food choices for their children and themselves.
As a Company working with young overweight and obese children, young people and adults, Activ8rlives sees the daily struggles that individuals have with achieving a healthy body weight. Time and time again, they are finding that the most successful are those that undertake the challenge as a family group or friendship/work network.
Activ8rlives provides its online tools free for the whole family or other group to track activity, body weights, image-based food diary, the ability to track up to 6 other specific parameters, that might include laps of a swimming pool, hours spent watching TV, dress size, walks to school, packets of crisps, portions of fruit and vegetables, etc. This is all available within a safe and secure online environment, where members of private groups can share messages of encouragement and motivation, similar to Facebook but this function is closed to the public because of concerns for the privacy of children.
The founder of Activ8rlives, Kevin A. Auton, Ph.D., formed the online platform Activ8rlives.com in response to his own needs as a family. Commenting on this he said,
“Like so many others, we are a busy working family. No time to exercise, too busy to eat the right food and storing up health problems for our futures. What shocked us into action was the effect this was having on our children as well as ourselves. Our kids were storing up health issues – and we were the problem, not them! Individually, we tried diets, pre-measured food in packets and gyms, but found that only when we improved our lifestyle together as a family, that positive changes were achieved. These were small changes – no big deal and a lot of fun”.
“The key challenge was finding time to be active. So we had to reinvent our schedule as a family. My youngest daughter goes to a school too far away to walk. So we drive within 1 mile and walk the rest. We call this our “Park and stride”! This is one simple change to our routine which has made a big difference for me and for my younger daughter (who really is the inspiration behind what we have developed). This simple action gives me a budget of 5,000 steps – about 40% of what I need each day to stay healthy. At the same time, we have become very mindful of what we are eating and have made some small, but really important changes. This self monitoring of food intake became the Image-based Food Diary. The weight fell off and stayed off, but every day, we work at staying well. It is not always easy, but it is achievable and sustainable”.
“The NICE guidance are particularly welcome as we have not seen the NHS tackling the problem of childhood obesity in the long-term, although they have developed some excellent short-term educational programmes but there is nothing to sustain and support the whole family approach beyond short interventions,” continues Mr Auton. “NICE are placing the onus firmly back on parents, the heart of the issue, to take responsibility for managing obesity within the family unit.”
Posted by Amy Moylan