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Does Hackney make you fat? Charity launches campaign to make borough healthier

PUBLISHED: 17:14 18 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:36 18 August 2017

The Does Hackney Make You Fat? team at London Fields today.

The Does Hackney Make You Fat? team at London Fields today.

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Health campaigners are aiming to reverse a growing trend of obesity in Hackney by conducting grassroots research to find the root of the problem.

Does Hackney Make You Fat?, a project by London Fields charity Social Action For Health, is run by people who have battled with their own weight and now want to help others.

They are on a mission to find out why 41.3 per cent of adults and 49.6pc of children in Hackney are overweight.

Barriers so far identified by the charity include exercise classes being intimidating to overweight people, healthy food being unaffordable or not applicable to certain cultures, and air pollution and technology impacting on leisure activities.

“We developed this campaign with the support of Hackney Council because we understand there is no ‘magic bullet’,” said project manager Adam Wilson. “Hackney has one the highest obesity rates in the UK.

“Many diets are quite simply unrealistic for people to adhere to, and people who have consistently struggled to lose weight are tired of social stigma, such as being told they need to control what they put in their mouths.

“Our project is not a weight loss programme, but a campaign that puts the power back in the hands of the community in order to find their own solutions.”

The project launched in April, and since then the group of volunteers and paid staff have been out in parks and shops conducting their research.

Based on findings from Clissold Park and London Fields, only 6pc of people in the parks were obese or overweight.

“We don’t know exactly why this is,” said one volunteer. “But it must change because being physically active is so key to good health.”

Now the team want to recruit volunteers to help raise awareness and take on the obstacles preventing people from living a healthy life.

Workshops will be held for the volunteers who want to make a difference.

“We are not trying to stigmatise anyone,” added Adam.

“We are looking for volunteers who self-identify as being overweight to help make a difference.”

Over the summer the team are hosting park events in London Fields and Clissold Park, where guests can play games and share a picnic with others.

The next one is tomorrow afternoon at midday in Clissold Park.

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