FREE nutrition and exercise classes are being offered to children and families.

The fun 10-week MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition … Do it!) programme, will be held at the leisure centre and One Point hub in Chester-le-Street from Tuesday, May 29.

It aims to help families get healthy by teaching them top tips on how to eat a better diet and keep active.

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At the after-school MEND programme, children aged seven to 13 and their parents will be able to learn about healthy eating together.

Children will then enjoy fun active games while parents learn how to set healthy goals and rewards and swap ideas and tips with other parents.

The programme is run by Durham County Council and was developed by Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London’s Institute of Child Health.

Independent research has shown that children who attend the programme reduce their BMI and improve their fitness and self-esteem.

Stephen Clough, who runs the programme in County Durham, said: "As experts in health and nutrition, we work with families to help them identify their unhealthy habits and swap them for healthy ones.

"MEND is not a diet, it’s about supporting families to create a healthy home environment and make small changes that can make a big difference.

"We know it works because children leave the programme full of energy and confidence.

"In the past parents have commented about the warm welcome they have received on the programme and how interesting the healthy eating guidance was, especially the information about claims on food packaging."

Parents who are concerned about their child’s weight and want to find out whether MEND is right for their family can call 0800 230 0263 or visit www.mendcentral.org