Cheap gym sessions to tackle obesity

HEALTH bosses last night hailed as a success a scheme to tackle Suffolk's childhood obesity problem in which teenagers are offered cheap gym membership.

HEALTH bosses last night hailed as a success a scheme to tackle Suffolk's childhood obesity problem in which teenagers are offered cheap gym membership.

One thousand young people in west Suffolk have now been recruited for the “Fit4Future” pilot scheme, which aims to address the decline in physical activity among youngsters by subsidising the cost of taking part in sport.

As part of the build up to London 2012, Suffolk County Council offered to fund a thousand gym memberships for those involved in the scheme aged 16 to 22.

A total of 16 private and council owned fitness clubs promoted the project during the recruitment phase of the project, which sees teenagers pay as little as �5 per month to join their local gym.


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Earlier this month, a report revealed how one in 11 Suffolk children were obese, while one in ten were not classed as physically active - spending two hours a week in PE or school sport.

Rosemary Clarke, the council's Sport, Culture, Diversity, Health and Wellbeing chief, hoped the initiative would have a lasting impact on the health of young people and make a valuable contribution to making Suffolk the healthiest county in the UK by 2028.

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“The response to the recruitment campaign has been fantastic,” she said. “It has demonstrated a real desire by young people across the west of the county to engage in physical activity.”

David Stalker, operations director of the Fitness Industry Association, said: “Reaching the 1,000 new participant mark is a great testimony to the team in Suffolk and to the decision to pilot the idea of subsidised gym membership.

“What this initiative has proved is that intervention works. Young people have the desire and the will to change their behaviour and perhaps even their lifestyle if the catalyst and incentive is right.

Morgana Berry, a 19-year-old “Fit4Future” recruit from Barrow, juggles a degree course and a weekend bar job as well as visiting the local gym at least three times a week.

“It's been fantastic for me,” she said. “As many young people do, I put on some weight during my first year at university and I wanted to do something about that and this scheme was perfect.”

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