Charity is providing a real ‘Zest’ for life

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Leeds charity Zest Health for Life is celebrating the completion of a successful project aimed at helping to tackle childhood obesity in the city.

The charity, which works to improve health and social inequality in deprived areas of the city, ran the Heart Smart - Eat and play your heart out project over the past year.

Natalie Davies, Community Health Development worker at Zest, who led the project said it had come about after staff had raised concerns about the number of already obese children they were seeing at nursery. The charity which generally works with adults over 18 looked at making it a family project with a focus on the heart and the importance of keeping it healthy. This included healthy eating and weight management. Natalie said they had noticed a real change in people’s attitudes by the end of the six weeks.

“There was much more interest in healthy cooking and healthy eating as well as the heart. It was absolutely brilliant to see families develop throughout the project. What we found was that people didn’t really understand the heart and how the different fats and food or not drinking enough water could affect it.

“Many of the families we worked with came to us lacking in confidence but ended up leaving with bags of knowledge and enthusiasm to take part in activities and make positive changes in their lives.”

These positive changes run through the heart of Zest’s work. As well as improving health, the charity, which founded in September 2002, works to get people out of isolation and back into community groups.It has a number of projects including a wide-reaching Health Inequalities programme which runs through Meanwood, Halton Moor, Richmond Hill and Osmondthorpe. As well as running community, exercise and social activities, the project also works to prevent early death from preventable diseases.

Based at Richmond Hill, Zest was initially funded through the New Opportunities Fund Healthy Living Centre Programme. But since 2007, the charity has been commissioned by NHS Leeds and funded by a wide range of Leeds based funders and UK charitable trusts to work across Leeds and surrounding areas.

As part of its aim to promote good health and diet, the charity runs both the Leeds and Rothwell Ministry of Food developled by Jamie Oliver. The eight week courses teach people how to prepare quick, easy meals and provide the perfect introduction to cooking.


Zest Health for Life offers support and opportunities to people living in disadvantaged areas.

The charity addresses health inequalities and social isolation through activities which improve physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing.

Zest can be found at 21 Upper Accommodation Road, Leeds LS9 8RZ. Tel 0113 2406677

Contact Jamie’s Ministry of Food Leeds on 0113 2425685