Baby, dad and facilitator at a HENRY group programme

Child obesity

The evidence is compelling: obesity has its roots in the early years and these present a critical window of opportunity to support parents to help them provide their children with a healthy.

  • The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) shows that nearly 1 in 4 children are overweight/obese by age 5 with overweight
  • The Health Survey for England has shown this weight status is actually often achieved even younger with 10% of 2-4 year olds already obese - the same rate as at age 5
  • Shockingly, 2017 analysis by Public Health England of the NCMP data shows that just 1 in 20 obese 5 year olds will return to a healthy weight by age 11
  • Conversely, only 1 in 10 children who are a healthy weight at age 5 will become obese
  • Several studies shows the vast majority obese teenagers remain obese into adulthood
  • Obesity is strongly associated with deprivation: rates at age 5 in the most deprived neighbourhoods are 12%, double the 6% of the least deprived (NCMP)
  • Obesity runs in families – studies show maternal obesity is the single greatest risk factor for child obesity.

The consequences of obesity are very serious. It affects children’s health and wellbeing: teasing, isolation, bullying and discrimination are commonplace and affect confidence and self-esteem. Obese children are also more likely to be ill, absent from school, and have health-related limitations than healthy weight children. The psychological harm is enduring; overweight adults find it more difficult to find and keep a job and are more likely to have poor mental health (Public Health England). The long-term physical health consequences for adults are life-limiting (such as greater risk of disability) and life-threatening: including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.

Our services take a whole-family approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight from pregnancy to the end of primary school:

  • Antenatal - our 6-week Healthy Families in the Making programme for parents-to-be is underpinned by the evidence-based HENRY approach and targets pregnant women with a high BMI
  • Early years programmes:
    • our 8-week Healthy Families: Right from the Start programme has the strongest evidence base of any national early years obesity prevention programme in the UK. It supports broader aspects of child development so several commissioners use it as their key early years pathway.
    • Cooking for a healthy family is a practical 6-week programme to build parents’ skills, confidence and knowledge with food preparation, cooking, and ideas for healthier family meals
  • Early years workshops - our suite of Healthy Families workshops includes several which support a healthy weight including our very popular Starting Solids workshop (also available as a 1-to-1 intervention), as well as Fussy Eating, Eating Well for Less, Let’s Get Active, Healthy Food Swaps, Healthy Drinks, and Portions & Sizes
  • Primary-age programmes - our 10-week Healthy Families: Growing up programme is a targeted weight management programme for overweight/obese children and their parents. It takes the approach that parents are still the primary influencers and agents of change.

Practitioner Training - our Core Skills Training develops practitioners’ skills, knowledge and confidence to use the proven HENRY approach to support behaviour change for a healthy lifestyle for the whole family. It is accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health.

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Download or view our brochure

A commissioner guide to HENRY family support services, training and delivery models

A Healthy Start front cover
Our evidence base

HENRY is underpinned by the best available evidence and rigorous evaluation

Practitioners on core training
Flexible delivery models

We offer a range of effective delivery models which can be tailored in response to local needs