A HEALTHY mayor is encouraging his residents to keep fit and fight the flab.

Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon likes to work out each day.

Together with children's TV presenter Kirsten O'Brien and public health director Professor Peter Kelly, he launched a range of health initiatives aimed at the poorer neighbourhoods in the town this week.

He said: "Regular exercise undoubtedly improves the quality of life. And I would support anything that encourages people to exercise regularly.''

Ten projects aimed at providing health information and opportunities for young people in Middlesbrough have been launched.

They are being funded by £960,000 from the New Opportunities Fund with additional cash from 12 local groups.

The projects include circuit-training for young children and the employment of three youth workers, who aim to increase teenagers' knowledge about health.

There will be fun physical activities and health and beauty activities at community centres, and a free minibus shuttles to fitness events.

Mr Mallon said: "I want people to get involved and take advantage of these projects.''