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£180K BHF funding helps Loughborough put Kids FIRST

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Researchers at Loughborough University have been awarded more than £180,000 from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to help tackle sedentary lifestyles in children.

Eating unhealthy snacks and being inactive by spending a long time sitting in front of screens are two types of behaviour that can increase the risk of poor health in children.

The Kids FIRST project aims to understand more about why snacking – particularly on foods high in sugar and fat – and sedentary lifestyles in children often occur together.

Dr Emma Haycraft and colleagues from Loughborough’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS), will conduct surveys and focus groups with children aged five to six and 11 to 12, and will interview their parents, to understand typical screen time and snack consumption behaviours.

Identifying the habits that families engage in at home will help the researchers define ways to help parents and children tackle a sedentary lifestyle. The pilot programme could form the basis of a larger scale programme to reduce children’s sedentary screen time and snacking behaviours.

Dr Haycraft, who is joined by colleagues Dr Natalie Pearson, Professor Stuart Biddle, Dr Paula Griffiths and Sonia McGeorge on the research team, said:

“Involving the whole family and increasing their awareness of their daily activities is essential in order to try to change behaviour and encourage families to adopt a healthier lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle, beginning in childhood, is vital to keeping the heart healthy.

“It is hoped that the initiatives could be rolled out to a larger number of families to make a real impact on the burden that unhealthy lifestyle choices is placing on the health of the UK population.”

The prestigious grant is part of a new multi-million pound boost for UK heart research, and follows BHF’s launch of Fight for Every Heartbeat – a national campaign to highlight the suffering caused by heart disease across the UK.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said:

“Through research we’re fighting for every heartbeat, so one day we can put an end to the devastation heart disease brings. This pioneering research project is one of thousands across the UK bringing us a step closer to winning the battle against heart disease.

“We couldn’t fund the research team here at LoughboroughUniversitywithout your support; donate today so we can fund more projects like this and eradicate heart disease for good.”

Text FIGHT to 70123 and give £3 to join the fight for every heartbeat or make a donation today by visiting bhf.org.uk/findthecure

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