A dance teacher has welcomed efforts to get children active in Salford where child obesity is above average and still rising.

More than one-third of Salford children are obese and that is blamed partly on poor diet but mainly on lack of exercise.

Salford is one of England’s most inactive cities so plans were drawn up to transform it into a more  active city.

Jennifer Doolan, owner of JD Dance in Salford, said:

“You do see that more children are on the bigger side.

“I feel like it’s too easy to eat unhealthily. When parents are busy and life is busy it’s easier for the children to be unhealthy. It can also be harder in underprivileged areas for children to get into active classes and keep that up.”

In recent years the NHS has found that poorer children are more likely to be obese because meals with less nutritional value are cheaper and easier to cook.

Jennifer added:

“It’s accessibility. It’s having that accessibility for children to be able to eat healthy. Some parents just don’t have the money. They are too busy working…and they don’t have the money to send their child to an active class.

“My classes are four pound an hour which is affordable but I know a lot of others aren’t that affordable. I’ve had people come to my dance school because it is more affordable, especially, for example, if you have four kids. It is just about being able to get access to these things.“

Many of Salford’s active classes, like Jennifer’s, and leisure centres have discounts for children. Most of this is to act as an incentive to parents and to encourage children to attend them.

National healthy eating initiatives, like Change4Life are also trying to lower the child obesity rates by showing how small changes to diets can make a big difference. They also have many cheap recipes online to try and encourage healthy eating on a budget.

However, the government can only do so much. Jennifer said:

“I do think it is the parents as well. It’s about motivating children. If they don’t have that person that they can look upto in their life then they’ll think ‘what’s the point?

“If a child is on the bigger side then you don’t want to draw attention to that. Then it’s about looking at it in a different way. You could say ‘you’re friend is going why don’t you go?’. I use solos. I’ll say ‘if you work really hard then you can get a solo in the next show.'”

Salford City Council aims for Salford to be an active city by 2022 by making these things more accessible and investing in Salford’s leisure centres.

The Government has found that younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer. The framework also found that people are 20% less active now than in the 1960s and predict that will increase by 2030.

In 2006, Salford’s Obesity Strategy found that nearly a third of children in Salford were classed as overweight or obese. Salford’s Health Profile then found that over a third of children from Salford are obese.

In comparison to the rest of England, that is above average.

Image Credit: Jennifer Doolan.

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