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Research starts to help families with children who are overweight

NHS Coventry and Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick are looking for 40 families with children aged 7-11 years who face problems with their weight to take part in a research project in Coventry.

The research is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme.

‘Families for Health’ is a new group-based programme for families who have 7 to 11 year old children who are overweight. . This family programme has undergone piloting and has been shown to be helpful to families, but it is now important to assess it in a more rigorous study design, known as a Randomised Controlled Trial.

Families will be allocated, by chance, to one of two groups, either to receive the ‘Families for Health’ programme or to continue to receive standard treatments that are in use in Coventry. All families will be followed up for 12 months, and measurements taken will be compared between the two groups at the end of the study to find out if the programme works.

The ‘Families for Health’ programme will run for 10 weeks at the Moat House Leisure Centre in Coventry from April to July 2012 on Saturday mornings. Each session will last for two and a half hours. Parents and children will meet in separate groups, and will explore ideas for supporting family relationships and well-being, as well as healthy food and activity. The groups will be run by specially trained facilitators who know about nutrition, physical activity, parenting and working with children.

We are looking for families who may be interested in helping with this research, and would like them to get in touch so that further information can be given. Families interested in the programme should contact: Wendy Robertson at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, call: 024 7657 4660 or email 

Kate Reddington, Healthy Weight Co-ordinator from NHS Coventry emphasised the importance of the research, she said: “Over 1 in 5 ten year olds in Coventry are very overweight. This is a major concern because of the long-term health problems such as; diabetes and heart disease that these children are likely to suffer. Joining the ‘Families for Health’ programme may start to help families lead a healthier lifestyle and address issues with their weight.”

Dr Wendy Robertson from the University of Warwick, who is leading the research, said: “We need to find out if the ‘Families for Health’ programme can help families with their children’s weight. Support which involves all the family may help children with their weight, and if shown to be effective we want such programmes to be available to families in the UK.”

Further information:

1. The proportion of children aged 10-11 years (Year 6) in Coventry who are very overweight is 20.3%.

2. Children who are very overweight have higher risks of getting joint problems, asthma and diabetes, and in being bullied or teased. They are also more at risk of a number of health problems in adulthood, including heart disease.

3. The research is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme.

4. The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme funds research about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It is the largest NIHR programme and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with over 600 issues published to date. The journal’s 2010 Impact Factor (4.197) ranked it in the top 10% of medical and health-related journals. All issues are available for download free of charge from the website,

To arranage interviews or for more information please contact:

Dr Wendy Robertson, Associate Professor, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, CV4 7AL
Tel: 024 7657 4660, email: or Kate Cox, Communications Manager, Communications Office, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 8UW
Tel: 02476 150483, email: