Childhood obesity problem in Hartlepool improving – but more action is needed

An obesity conference held at the Maritime Experience heard from delegates on how progress is being made to tackle the problem in Hartlepool. Delegates at the conference. Children from Rift House Primary School address the conference.
An obesity conference held at the Maritime Experience heard from delegates on how progress is being made to tackle the problem in Hartlepool. Delegates at the conference. Children from Rift House Primary School address the conference.

HEALTH bosses say they are winning the fight against childhood obesity in Hartlepool - but much more needs to be done.

More than four hours of talks and activities were held in town yesterday to highlight the issue in a town which has one of the worst obesity rates in the country.

One hundred people were at the Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience for the event which celebrated the first year of the combined British Heart Foundation and Hartlepool Council project called Hartlepool Hearty Lives Younger and Wiser.

Event chairman, Hartlepool Council leader Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, said: “Through this exciting partnership with the British Heart Foundation, much has already been achieved over the last year and we are determined to keep building on that success.”

The three-year project is working with children to encourage them to make healthier lifestyle choices, to break the cycle of ill health and premature death experienced by their parents and grandparents.

It was launched in September last year and the emphasis of the programme is to make the learning experience fun for the children. It includes activities such as drama workshops and healthy eating cookery sessions as well as sporting events.

As well as looking back on many of the last year’s successes, the event included a conference on tackling obesity with guest speakers including national obesity expert Professor Paul Gately, who is Professor of Exercise and Obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University and chairman of the National Obesity Forum for Yorkshire and the Humber.

Dr Mark Reilly, the assistant director of Tees Public Health Intelligence, also spoke.

Children from some of Hartlepool’s primary schools were also involved yesterday.

Pupils from Rift House Primary School talked about how they had organised playground leaders to co-ordinate fitness activities, St Bega’s Primary students demonstrated skipping and Elwick Primary pupils presented their own rap poems about healthy eating.

Coun Akers-Belcher said everyone had a role to play in tackling and preventing obesity, including encouraging children to enjoy healthy, active lifestyles.