Local Politicians 'Stop the Spread'

15 November, 2011. A cross-party group of more than 20 MLAs from right across Northern Ireland have lost almost 8 stone in an eight-week programme to slim down and improve their lifestyles. This is the start of a long-term initiative for most of these politicians and many have pledged today to continue with the programme in an effort to keep off the weight.

The initiative was organised by safefood, the body responsible for promoting healthy eating and food safety, and forms part a major two-year, all-island awareness campaign called Stop the Spread, which urges people to measure their waist to see if they are overweight.

At present, almost 60% of adults in Northern Ireland are carrying excess weight.

The Northern Ireland Assembly members, including Jim Wells of the DUP, Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew, the UUP's Basil McCrea, Judith Cochrane of Alliance and Dominic Bradley, SDLP, were among MLAs to put their names forward in a bid to raise awareness of the serious health epidemic associated with being overweight.

safefood’s Director of Human Health and Nutrition, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, said:

It’s wonderful to see the progress this group has made over the eight-week programme, not only have they lost weight and become healthier but they are also sending out a powerful message to all adults in Northern Ireland that being overweight is a critical issue that needs to be tackled and that this weight loss is achievable.

The weight they have lost at this stage we have calculated would be the equivalent of more than 100lbs of butter and that’s a great start to stopping the spread! We all know that losing weight really isn’t easy for most people, these politicians have started the process in a sensible way, losing the weight it little by little, which means that in the long term they will be much more likely to keep this weight off”.

The politicians attended a weekly ‘weigh-in’ where they received health tips and nutritional advice from safefood experts. Participating MLAs were encouraged to use safefood’s free online weight loss website to support them during the programme which contains loads of free advice to help them eat healthy, get more active and stay motivated.

safefood is asking adults to measure their waist** and know what their true waist size is – having a waist size greater than 32 inches for a woman or 37 inches for a man is a clear indication that a person is carrying excess weight.

The Stop the Spread campaign is a two-year, all-island initiative by safefood and comprises television and radio advertising. People who want to 'measure up' are also encouraged to use safefood's free online weight loss website, Weigh2Live and participate on the Weigh2Live Facebook (www.facebook.com/safefood.eu) and connect with others trying to lose weight.

For more information, visit www.safefood.eu or call 0800 085 1683.

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For further information please contact:

David Cullen
ASG
028 90 80 2000 and 07919 598 710

or

Dermot Moriarty
safefood
Tel: +353 86 3811034

Editors notes

MLAs who took part in the 8-week programme include John McCallister, UUP, Health Committee Member, South Down; Jim Wells, DUP, Health Committee Deputy Chair, South Down; Judith Crochrane, Alliance, East Belfast; Chris Lyttle, Alliance, East Belfast; Basil McCrea, UUP, Lagan Valley; Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Feinn, Health Committee Chair, Fermanagh & South Tyrone; Oliver McMullan, Sinn Fein, East Antrim; Cathal O hOisin, Sinn Feinn, East Londonderry; Stephen Moutray, DUP, Upper Bann; Danny Kinahan, UUP, South Antrim.

¹In Northern Ireland, 35% of adults aged 16+ were overweight and 24% obese and more than one in four of children aged 2-15 years were found to be either overweight or obese (Health & Social Wellbeing Survey 2005/06 (NISRA, 2007))

**To measure your waist correctly, feel the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hipbones; your waist lies between these 2 points, normally where your bellybutton is. When measuring your waist, it’s important to remember it’s not where your trousers sit (or the waist size of clothes you buy).