Oliver shops around for a healthier diet

MOST parents dread having to drag their bored children around supermarkets.But as Oliver Colvin went down the shopping aisles of Morrisons in Lowestoft with his mother there was a distinct spring in his step.

MOST parents dread having to drag their bored children around supermarkets.

But as Oliver Colvin went down the shopping aisles of Morrisons in Lowestoft with his mother there was a distinct spring in his step.

For the eight-year-old was on a quest to find healthy food instead of his usual fattening snacks.

For an hour the youngster closely scrutinised dozens of food labels as he examined which products were good for him.

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And soon Oliver discovered low fat yoghurts, healthier cereals and slimline crisps to replace his usual diet of treats and meals, which had a fat content of more than five grams.

It is now hoped that Oliver's supermarket tour will enable him to lead a more healthy and active life and help bring down the bulging waistlines of children from the Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas.

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The trip to Morrisons was organised as part of a regional scheme to help youngsters lose weight and take up sport and regular exercise.

It also comes at a time when supermarkets are under pressure to promote healthy food and stop placing confectionery by tills to entice youngsters to pick up a tasty but fattening treat.

Yarmouth and Waveney has higher rates of obesity than the national average - with nearly one in five Year Six children being classed as obese.

It is now hoped that Oliver's experiences on the Mind, Exercise, Nutrition... Do it! (MEND) project will inspire the present generation of children from the Yarmouth and Waveney areas to lose weight and keep fit.

Because of the nine-week MEND course, Oliver now tucks in to delicious home-made packed lunches, enjoys apples and oranges instead of crisps and fattening drinks and plays more sport.

A key part of the course was an hour-long tour of Morrisons in which MEND tutors let Oliver discover which foods were best for his daily diet.

As well as the food label hunt, Oliver played dodge ball and badminton and learnt about good and bad types of food to eat at free sessions organised by MEND through NHS Yarmouth and Waveney.

His mother said that since MEND, Oliver has a new lease of life and as well as beginning to get fighting fit he had made many new friends on the course.

Mrs Colvin, of Long Road, Lowestoft, said: 'MEND was a real eye-opener for Oliver and the tour of Morrisons was great fun. A lot of people have commentated on how Oliver has changed.

'He is definitely a lot more confident and is really proud of what he has achieved.'

So far more than 160 children from Yarmouth and Waveney have taken part in the scheme which sees youngsters find out about cooking healthy food, the joys of playing sport and taking part in regular exercise.

MEND is a national programme that runs twice a week after school and was set up to help three million overweight children in the country shed the pounds.

It is predicted that by 2015 the cost of treating diseases caused by being overweight or obese will soar from �65m to �72m in Yarmouth and Waveney.

Steph Gittins, MEND co-ordinator, said: 'MEND is all about encouraging the child to become fitter, healthier and happier by giving them the tools to make choices about food and exercise from a young age.'

The next NHS Yarmouth and Waveney free MEND courses will be starting in Gorleston and Yarmouth on January 20.

For further information call Steph Gittins on 01493 334711.

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