Project improves families’ health

Zest Health for Life was awarded more than �5,000 by Heart Research UK for the project
Zest Health for Life was awarded more than �5,000 by Heart Research UK for the project
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Families living in disadvantaged communities have made positive lifestyle changes in a year-long project which set out to transform their eating habits.

The project, ‘Heart Smart - Eat and play your heart out’, consisted of a series of six-week courses to show Leeds parents with children under the age of five how to get their families involved in leading healthier lives in a bid to tackle childhood obesity and reduce their risks of heart disease.

Community group, Zest Health for Life, which aims to strengthen disadvantaged communities, was awarded more than £5,000 by Leeds-based national charity Heart Research UK, for the project in Burmantofts, Osmondthorpe, Richmond Hill and surrounding areas in Leeds.

Since starting the project, which ended last month, Zest Health for Life has worked with around 50 families, highlighting the importance of physical activity and healthy diets, as well as educating participants about the heart in general.

Community health development worker, Natalie Davies, said: “It was absolutely brilliant to see families develop throughout the project. Many families came to us lacking in confidence and are leaving with bags of knowledge and enthusiasm to take part in activities and make positive changes in their lives.

“While we will be unable to continue the programme without funding we are certainly using the lessons we learned in our work to build heart messages into sessions and groups we deliver. Anything we can do in the future to improve heart health knowledge will benefit the community.”

The project, held in conjunction with Shakespeare Children’s Centre, came after figures showed 20 per cent of children leaving primary school in the UK are considered obese and it is thought that around 23 per cent of Leeds reception children are overweight or obese.