The Problem
Obesity is a growing problem with around 22 million children less than 5 years of age worldwide currently classified as overweight or obese. According to data from the World Obesity Federation, Egypt child obesity rates rank seventh in the world with 32% of children obese. Children who are overweight or obese in early childhood are more likely to become overweight as adults. This is a concern because obesity is associated with higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers in later life. Overweight children may also suffer from low self-esteem and have a poorer quality of life (Department for Education and Skills 2006).

The Solution
Dr Julie Lanigan and Professor Atul Singhal from the Childhood Nutrition Research Centre, UCL Institute of Child Health have worked with a team including dietitians, paediatricians, physical activity professionals and clinical psychologists to develop TrimTots – a healthy lifestyle programme for preschool children and their families. Nysa Projects, an arts organisation experienced in providing creative project content for art in health/education, have developed the artistic elements of Trim Tots.

TrimTots has been designed to help parents/carers of young children develop the knowledge and skills needed, to establish healthy dietary and activity patterns and lead a healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating and physical activity is encouraged during weekly sessions over 24 weeks. Each two hour session runs as a series of interactive workshops including art, music and movement, healthy snack, adult nutrition education (WaistWise) and children’s play-based physical activities (FunBursts and StretchStory).

The Evidence
TrimTots has been successfully delivered in 11 centres and is the only evidence based programme in preschool children that has been evaluated using the gold-standard RCT design and shown to be effective in the prevention and management of obesity in preschool children. Importantly, unlike other obesity interventions, long term follow-up, two years after completing TrimTots, found a sustained BMI reduction for children who took part.

The Journey
UCL Business PLC (UCLB), the technology commercialisation company of UCL, assisted the team in securing a £10,000 HEFCE UnLtd Social Enterprise award for proof of concept and provided business planning support, company formation and intellectual property advice to expand and increase the availability of the programme to more children.

In 2015, Trim Tots was spun-out as a Community Interest Company (CIC), a type of company introduced by the UK government, designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good. In 2016, Trim Tots CIC was accepted onto the Health Social Innovators’ accelerator programme, unique partnership between UCLB, Numbers for Good and Trafford Housing Trust, with backing from the Cabinet Office’s Social Incubator Fund, with additional social investment secured at programme-end.

If you are interested in commissioning TrimTots, please contact Ana Lemmo Charnalia on a.charnalia@uclb.com

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