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The Family Health Initiative

The Family Health Initiative
Early Years - the organisation for young children
Contact email address
Publication year 2013
Date entered into repository26 June 2013
Obesity continues to be one of the most important public health challenges facing Northern Ireland with 22.5% of children in Primary 1 identified as overweight (17.2%) or obese (5.3%). This trend has a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals. For children the most serious long-term consequence of obesity is its persistence into adulthood. This highlights early intervention as key to reducing obesity levels.
What did you do? Briefly describe what was involved in your case study
Early Years  the organisation for young children has developed The Family Health Initiative, an evidence based programme aimed at encouraging families to develop healthy lifestyle habits from an early age. This project was funded March 2011-March 2013 by the European Union's European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme managed by the Special EU programmes Body. Additional funding has been agreed until September 2013 by the Public Health Agency. Active Communities Coaches support this programme and are funded by the âSport Northern Ireland lottery Active Communities programme. The overall aim was to develop and implement:• Healthy Lifestyle prevention programme for families with a child under 5 years (8 weeks)• Making A Difference weight management programme targeting children aged 8-11 years who were overweight or obese (12 weeks).The programmes intended to empower families to:1) Understand importance of a balanced diet and make healthier food choices.2) Understand importance of exercise and increasing physical activity levels.3) Understand physical and emotional consequences connected to obesity.4) Build skills and confidence of parents to model healthy lifestyle choices for their childrenThe programme focused on three key areas:• Healthy eating• Physical exercise• Emotional wellbeingThree bespoke illustrated story books, with accompanying puppets, support the delivery of this programme.Programmes were delivered in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area, Northern Ireland, based in the local community. Partnership working was key to the success, where a local steering group was developed to provide support and guidance to the programme. 
What was the outcome/result of your case study?
Healthy Lifestyle prevention programme: 124 families enrolled, 81 families completed (65%). Making a Difference: 45 families enrolled, 33 families completed (78%).One parent commented:"The programme was very beneficial in a number of ways both directly in terms of supporting Caitlin to have a healthier lifestyle and weight loss but also the impact of improved knowledge about diet and exercise which she has shared with the whole family." 
Has an evaluation of the project occurred?
In house evaluations and independent evaluations have been carried out over the 2 year period. The University of Ulster has completed an evaluation and results are showing positive trends around reduced BMI z scores, increased self esteem and increased fruit and vegetable consumption. 
  • Children
  • Intervention/treatment
  • Obesity
What audience is your case study relevant to?
  • Health Professional
  • Media
  • Local government
  • Voluntary/Community Sector