Healthy living in JanUary

It is a new tradition but a tradition nevertheless. Every January we all look at ourselves, look back on how much we ate and drank over December, and resolve to spend the first month of the New Year living healthier, better lives. For too many people, however, February sees a relapse into too much bad food and too little physical activity.

It’s one of the key aims of JanUary – known in previous years as National Obesity Awareness Week – is to make sure that men and women, boys and girls, try and live healthier lives beyond January 31st. Run by the National Obesity Forum, the clinician-led charity that campaigns to bring down the UK’s alarmingly high obesity rate, JanUary aims to use fun, interactive and innovative ways to help people live healthier lives for the year, not just the month.

One such interactive way of doing this during this year’s JanUary, which comes to end this weekend (the 16th and 17th), with Members of Parliament supporting some fiercely competitive primary school children in a quiz about healthy eating. Taking place in the Houses of Parliament, MPs including Steve Pound, Carol Monaghan and Rupa Huq competed with a group of children aged nine and ten years old – and no quarter was given. Fortunately former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton was there to keep order and make sure that there was no misbehaviour….from our elected representatives.

The quiz was won by Montpelier Primary on a tense tie-break round and was part of the Eat Like A Champ programme, run by Danone, a generous JanUary supporter. Many children – like many adults – are quickly turned off by lectures from well-meaning public health authorities about how they should eat less, drink less and run more. Putting such messages into the context of a quiz for children and through a scheme such as Eat Like A Champ helps to ensure that boys and girls, at a crucial age, retain that knowledge about how to eat better and live better.

The problem is when it comes to tackling obesity is that too few adults, let alone children, really know what it good for them. Indeed, too few adults even know that they are overweight or obese or that they are in danger of developing severe conditions because they are carrying too much weight.

These were points raised at the first meeting of the reformed All Party Parliamentary Group on Adult and Childhood Obesity, chaired by the Conservative MP Maggie Throup. The focus of the group is a familiar one: Government discussion of obesity policy is often at its height in January, but the job of the APPG is to ensure that this discussion, unlike so many New Year’s Resolutions, is pushed forward in the coming months.

You can find out more about JanUary, its work this year and its sponsors at