A Willesden athletics charity is urging kids to get running, after a study showed childhood obesity leads to major depression in adult life.
Being overweight, at the ages of eight or 13, more than triples the risk of developing major depression later in life, a study has shown.
The link between childhood obesity and depression stems from new research by the VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
So Track Academy founder, Connie Henry, is urging young people to turn to athletics for the start they need in life.
With one in three English children in their last year of primary school found to be overweight or obese, according to the National Child Measurement Programme, Connie from the Willesden-based charity has stressed the "myriad benefits of athletics".
Ms Henry, a former triple jumper, who won a bronze medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, said: “This sport has a unique ability to combat obesity.
“With activities including running, walking, jumping and throwing, athletics caters for all natural body types, mindsets and energy pathways.
"What’s more, the basic skills needed for athletics can be learned through play and fun activities, making them even more appealing to children and young people.”
Track Academy is a registered charity, which uses sport for social change among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Based at the Willesden Sports Centre in Donnington Road, academy members are given inspiration to succeed both on and off the track.
Connie added it is vital to teach youngsters about the importance of healthy eating, alongside putting them through their athletics paces.
“Track Academy doesn’t just work on the physical aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
"We also offer education and mentoring programmes,” she explained.
“As a result, our student athletes are taught to understand healthy food choices through enjoyable sessions.
"This helps them to guard against becoming overweight or obese, and promotes self-confidence and a positive outlook.”
Alongside athletics coaching, children who attend can receive education sessions to help them gain qualifications, encouraging them to carve out fulfilling lives away from negative influences.
To find out more about Track Academy by Connie Henry, visit their website or call 07956 715052.
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