– 50% of participating children lose weight in pilot scheme
Gerard Burke, a Limerick contestant from ITV’s ‘Biggest Loser UK 2012’, was on hand in the University of Limerick this week to help launch a new and innovative programme aimed at helping overweight and underactive children develop a healthy approach to weight management.
The ‘Way to Go Kids!’ programme, which is already established across the United States, is the first of its kind to be launched in Ireland. It was piloted in Limerick 2011, with 50% of participating children losing weight and 25% maintaining their weight loss by the end of the programme.
Gerard Burke from Garryowen in Limerick City, who lost 5 stone 13 pounds over the course of the ITV reality programme, said: “I am thrilled to be involved with this worthwhile initiative as I can relate to what it is trying to achieve. Parents out there need to know what the consequences are if they keep feeding their children unhealthy foods.”
Gerard continued: “Growing up was hard for me as I was a picky eater and my mother used to give me whatever I wanted, to keep me happy. But later on in life I paid the price. At my heaviest, I weighed 23 stone 6lbs. Parents need to be responsible and do their utmost to ensure their children grow up to be healthy adults.”
‘Way to Go Kids!’ will run in Limerick over eight weeks from 18 April, and will feature parent and child classes, and sessions facilitated by dieticians and professional fitness instructors.
The programme has been developed as a partnership between Limerick businesses, through the Get BACk Challenge, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Limerick City and County Sports Partnerships.
According to Sinead Glover, HSE Dietician: “Eating the right amount of healthy food and being active is key to maintaining a healthy weight. Way to go Kids! is a programme that helps overweight children and their families adopt healthier eating habits and increase their physical activity, while having fun doing it”.
“Growing young people should not diet but in this day and age they are too often eating more calories than they need which leads to overweight. This innovative programme offers advice on healthy eating, with guidance on portion sizes and achieving a healthy diet”, Ms. Glover added.
Commenting on the pilot scheme run in 2011, Phelim Macken of the County Limerick Local Sports Partnership stated: “Parents agreed that Way to go Kids! actively encouraged their children to eat healthily and makes physical activity fun. For the professionals involved, namely the sports instructors, dieticians and parent support workers, it was a joy to run and the results were extremely encouraging. In an area that is becoming increasingly challenging it is great to be part of something that works.”
Elaine Barry, Coordinator Limerick City Sports Partnership added: “This is a unique programme, helping families build lifelong healthy attitudes towards food and fitness. It incorporates exercise, nutrition and behaviour modification. Snacking, eating away from home, fast foods and physical inactivity are pertinent issues, to not only the child but the family, as a whole.”