START tackling treats at home


START tackling treats at homeThe Western Trust together with the Public Health Agency and Department of Health are supporting the latest phase of the ‘START’ campaign; a five-year public health awareness campaign from Safefood which runs from the 27 August to 21 September 2019.

‘START’ aims to offer practical advice and support for parents to tackle everyday habits associated with excess weight gain in children and encourage families to make small changes to lead a healthier lifestyle.

This phase of the campaign coincides with new Safefood research which reveals that almost a quarter of Northern Irish children’s daily diet consists of ‘junk’ foods such as crisps, biscuits, cakes, sweets and chocolate with 40% of afternoon snacks and 25% of evening snacks consisting of these foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

Jemma Theobald, Health Improvement Nutritionist for the Community Food and Nutrition Team at the Western Trust commented: “Snacks are an important part of a child’s diet due to their increased energy demands for growth. They should be wholesome, nutritious and satisfy a child’s appetite. However as this research indicates, unhealthy and calorie-laden ‘junk’ foods are increasingly used as a filler between meals and a staple in our daily diet and weekly shop. We need to focus on changing this trend for children’s future health and wellbeing.”

Making a change can be challenging, but the START campaign encourages families to take the first step towards a healthier future together, one daily win at a time and persisting with the positive changes no matter how difficult they become.

Families can start today by:

  • Offering healthier snacks between meals. For suggestions click here: Healthy Meals
  • Keeping snacks varied and on hand when hunger strikes
  • Making a family agreement such as, ‘no-junk-food-during-weekdays’ or let the children decide on which day of the week they’ll have a treat
  • Keeping treats out of sight to reduce temptation
  • Drawing up a list of non-food rewards (for example, an extra bedtime story or trip to the park)
  • Staying calm and sticking to the agreed plan. Consistency is key!

Parents can check out for more information on the START campaign.

For resources to support the campaign in your community or workplace, please contact the Western Trust’s Health Improvement, Equality and Involvement Department on T: 028 71865127 or email: