Free program for obese or overweight kids is peachy

 AN AMBITIOUS program to help parents deal with overweight or obese children will run in Rockhampton and Caboolture and two Brisbane suburbs before being potentially rolled out across the state.

The Queensland University of Technology is opening its free PEACH program for families now, with classes of 15 to begin next month.

The PEACH or Parenting Eating and Activity for Child Health strategy is being funded by both state and federal governments in an effort to address the state's growing weight problem.

They run for six months and open to families with children aged between 5 and 11.

Central and north Queensland towns are considered to be in the grips of an obesity epidemic, with 39% of adults in Gladstone, Rockhampton labelled "dangerously overweight" by the National Health Performance Authority in October.

The program's senior research fellow Helen Vidgens said although regional areas had higher rates of obesity, all parts of the state needed help.

"Every town in Australia has a prevalence problem with being overweight and obesity," she said.

"Regional and rural Queensland does have a higher prevalence of obesity in its adult population."

Figures on childhood obesity were less solid.

For those who take on the PEACH program, it involves a six-month nutrition and activity program plus 10 group sessions lasting 90 minutes per fortnight.

It is designed to help parents make healthy choices for their children but does involve a diet, boot-camp or calorie counting.

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