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Nurse-led programme for overweight schoolchildren in Surrey

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School nurses are to lead a new weight management programme for children in part of Surrey.

The Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives programme for five to 19-year-olds will be available from today in mid Surrey. It was developed by a nurse in response to growing demand from GPs and families for such a service.

Overweight and obese children living in Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley, Banstead, Tattenham and Elmbridge will have access to the new three-month programme to help them and their families stop further weight gain.

“We will support families to make long-lasting lifestyle and behaviour changes that will benefit their health for the rest of their lives”

Chris McDermott

The programme, based on guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, aims to support them to make long-term changes to their lifestyles.

Participants will receive a seven-part programme of face-to-face and phone support with a nurse, who will cover topics such as motivation, food and diet, understanding food labels, physical activity and lifestyle tips, such as healthy snack ideas.

Support will also be offered through partnerships with local leisure centres, as well as through aids such as pedometers, apps and information leaflets.

The programme is initially being piloted for six months until 31 October and hopes to support up to 50 individuals. It is being delivered by mid Surrey’s school nursing service, which is run by local NHS community health provider, CSH Surrey.

The social enterprise has been providing NHS community nursing and therapy services for adults, children and families in mid Surrey since 2006.

Chris McDermott, a specialist school nurse practitioner at CSH Surrey, devised the programme with a paediatric dietitian.

He said: “Around 18% of 4-5 year olds in Surrey are overweight or obese, which rises to more than 26% of 10-11 year olds. Through this programme we will support families to make long-lasting lifestyle and behaviour changes that will benefit their health for the rest of their lives.”

Surrey County Council commissioned the pilot programme and hopes to introduce a Surrey-wide service on the back of it.

Julie Nelson, the council’s public health lead, said: “The aim of this new programme is to support children and young people and their families develop healthier lifestyles, which in the long term can lead to them achieving a healthier weight and hopefully, happier lives.”

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