Improving children’s health across Enfield

Dr Ross Cunningham from Evergreen Surgery on the launch of a new partnership in the borough

Healthy children (credit Markus Spiske via Unsplash)
credit Markus Spiske via Unsplash

We are all aware of the impact of our lifestyles and our environment on our health and wellbeing.

In our surgery, we GPs see lots of patients struggling with illness and disability which are the strongly associated with smoking, obesity, poor diet, low-quality housing and lack of physical activity. As part of our efforts to prevent as well as treat illness, Evergreen Surgery in Edmonton Green has set up a new partnership with One Degree Academy (ODA) – a new primary school recently relocated to the former Chase Farm Hospital site – to try and improve collaboration and help pupils and their parents to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Our aim is that everyone lives healthier lives for longer. We know that even small changes – by moving more, choosing to eat less sugar and processed foods, and by reducing smoking levels and alcohol intake – can make huge differences over many years. There is an epidemic of ill health in the UK, with 70% of men and 60% of women now classed as ‘overweight or obese’, and our children are not immune to this: 28% of two-to-five-year-olds are heavier than they should be, and this worsens as time passes – with one-in-five of children starting secondary school in England classed as ‘obese’.

More than 25% of adults in the UK do less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week; so little that they are classed as ‘immobile’ in studies. This really matters. Chronic diseases including (but not limited to) high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, strokes, arthritis and depression are all closely linked to being overweight and inactive, and the statistics in Enfield borough are worse than the national average.

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In order to do something about this, we want to educate our children (and the parents who nurture them) in making small, healthy, sustainable choices. We have started with GP-led education sessions for parents at ODA, and are also running classes for key stage one pupils where we will introduce these topics to them in a fun and interactive way. The eventual aim is to be able to offer this programme to other schools in Enfield and to promote good health – not just to treat people when they become ill. Hopefully we are going to be planting a seed that will grow and grow.

Regarding the new partnership, ODA’s head of school Jo Addleton says: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the team at Evergreen Surgery. We recognise that our families may need help in order to be healthy and well supported. We believe that working with families will allow them to help their children to achieve well both academically and personally.

“At ODA, we do things differently and are passionate about teaching our children about healthy choices. This is why all of our children eat the same, healthy, hot lunch together during ‘family dining’ – there are no unhealthy packed lunches at ODA. However, we know to make real change we need to be working closely with families. This is why we are excited about working with the professionals at Evergreen Surgery who can help us support our community to make incremental changes to become healthier ‘one degree’ at a time”.

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