Leisure centres across East Antrim have thrown their weight behind the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Choose to Live Better campaign.
Waists across the Northern Health Trust area are set to be measured over coming months as part of the new campaign, which is being backed by Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey Borough Councils.
Thirteen leisure centres in the Northern Trust area - including Larne, Carrick, the Valley, Sixmile and Ballyearl - have been provided with weighing scales, stadiometers (for height measurement) and tape measures, funded by the PHA. Fitness instructors at council leisure centres have been trained by dietetic support workers to calculate body mass index (BMI) and waist measurements.
Choose to Live Better is a public information campaign which was launched in January and aims to help people identify whether they are inching towards bad health by measuring their waist circumference and calculating their BMI, and secondly, offering advice on small steps that they can take to help reduce their waist size.
PHA’s Head of Health and Social Wellbeing in the Northern area, Madeline Heaney, said: “More than one in two adults in Northern Ireland are now overweight or obese, but many people don’t even realise that they fall into this category and are putting their health at risk.
“Obesity is usually measured by BMI, which is a ratio of a person’s height and weight. In adults, having a BMI of 25 to 30 is classified as being overweight, and having a BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese.
“Waist measurement is a simple alternative measure which everyone can use to identify if they may be at increased risk of obesity-related health problems. A waist size of 37 inches or more in men, and 32 inches or more in women, can put you at increased risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.
“Through this work with local councils we hope to raise awareness of what constitutes being overweight and obese using weight measurement and BMI.
“We want to encourage individuals who are overweight to think about the impact their lifestyle choices could be having on their health.”
Training for leisure centre staff was provided by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.
Jill Curry, Dietetic Services Manager at the Trust, said: “One of the most difficult things in terms of obesity levels is to encourage everyone to be realistic about their weight and recognise when they are starting to move towards ill health. We’re delighted to back this campaign and provide staff with the necessary training to help them educate and encourage people to become healthier.”
Newtownabbey Borough Council is one of the councils in the Northern area which will be providing the service.
Neil McGowan, Sixmile Leisure Centre Manager, commented: “We are glad to be part of the Choose to Live Better campaign. By using the equipment supplied by the PHA and the training given to our qualified fitness instructors by the Northern Trust we can start to raise awareness and encourage local residents to make changes in their lifestyle that will have major impacts on their health and wellbeing.
“We want to encourage these people to get their family and friends involved so as everyone benefits from the changes made and a positive impact can be made on the wider community’s health and fitness.”
For further information about the Choose to Live Better campaign log on to www.choosetolivebetter.com