UCL Population Health Sciences


UCL researchers help reduce risk of excess weight gain in childhood with new programme

Researchers from UCL’s Institute of Child Health are helping to reduce obesity risk in children with an innovative new healthy lifestyle programme.

children sitting together

22 September 2022

Obesity is a growing problem. 39 million under-fives worldwide are living with overweight or obesity, and are at increased risk of having heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers as adults. 

UCL’s Dr Julie Lanigan and Professor Atul Singhal, from the Childhood Nutrition Research Centre at UCL’s Institute of Child Health, are taking a new approach to address this head on.  

TrimTots, a company developed out of UCL obesity research, delivers solutions that support parents and carers to establish healthy dietary and activity patterns in their children.   

Their Planet Munch programme encourages healthy eating and physical activity through 24 weekly, two-hour sessions. Interactive workshops deliver art, music and movement, healthy snacks, adult nutrition education and children’s play-based physical activities. 

Planet Munch was co-created by dietitians, paediatricians, physical activity professionals, clinical psychologists, early years professionals, parents and community artists, and has been successfully delivered in 15 children centres. It is the only programme that meets the UK NICE guidelines, with robust evidence to show it is effective in managing excess weight gain in preschool children.  

Importantly long-term follow-up, two years after completing Planet Munch, found a sustained BMI reduction in children who took part. 

In 2015, the Trim Tots community interest company (CIC) was spun-out, with support from UCL Business (UCLB), the commercialisation company of UCL, part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise. 

Planet Munch can be delivered digitally, and is open to commissions from local authorities or public health commissioners. TrimTots CIC is also now expanding to develop interventions for older children and families. 

Read the full story on the UCLB website