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iHV responds to Chief Medical Officer’s call to reduce maternal obesity

16th December 2015

The new annual report from the Chief Medical Officer, ‘Health of the 51%: women’, highlights obesity as one of the biggest risks to women’s health, affecting all aspects of a woman’s life from birth, family planning, pregnancy and right through to menopause and later life.

Dr Cheryll Adams, Director of the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), said: “The Institute is very much aware of the impact of being overweight on the physical and emotional wellbeing of mothers and their children – healthy weight, healthy nutrition being one of the Department of Health’s High Impact Areas for health visitors. To support this, the iHV is rolling out new Healthy Weight, Health Nutrition Champions Training for health visitors in the New Year. In addition, we have our new Ready Steady Mums community activity programme to get new mums together and become active with their children.”

The iHV Healthy Weight, Healthy Nutrition Champions Training is a brand new subject in the iHV highly acclaimed ‘Champions’ training portfolio. This training offers participants the opportunity to take up a role in training for their organisation. Building upon existing knowledge, the training explores why good nutrition matters across the lifespan and the significance of supporting women and their families to eat well as well as covering all aspects of pre-school and family nutrition. It was developed in collaboration with First Steps Nutrition and is supported by Public Health England.

The iHV-led Ready Steady Mums (RSM) programme is a national network of community activity groups for mothers. The programme offers health visitors a proven tool to help mothers overcome feelings of isolation and depression, while also improving their physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

Dr Adams commented: “Recent research by the iHV showed that 96% of health visitors believe there should be more support for mothers wanting to take regular exercise, however, 66% of them do not have the capacity to provide that support – we set out to provide a mechanism to support health visitors to do just that.”

Existing Ready Steady Mums groups have proven to have a profound impact on maternal health, wellbeing and community cohesion. Mothers who meet weekly with their babies and children report improved physical and mental health and the development of valuable friendships.

Dr Adams continued: “Obesity is one the greatest public health challenge, and is the priority of the ‘Health of the 51%: women’ report with its focus on women. The report is hugely positive for improving women’s health as well as the health of their children, families and communities – and the iHV is pleased to be supporting this agenda through new training and supporting communities to run their own Ready Steady Mums activity groups.”

—-ENDS —-

For more information please contact: Julie Cooper on 07508 344716 or [email protected]

Notes to editors

About the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV)

  • The Institute of Health Visiting is a UK Centre of Excellence supporting the development of universally high-quality health visiting practice. It was launched on 28 November 2012 to promote excellence in health visiting practice to benefit all children, families and communities. 
  • The aim for the iHV is to raise standards in health visiting practice, so improving public health outcomes for all children, families and communities.
  • For more information go to
  • Follow the Institute of Health Visiting on Twitter @iHealthVisiting and Facebook

 About Ready Steady Mums (RSM)

  • Ready Steady Mums is a community movement supported by the Institute of Health Visiting, Health Visitors and other medical professionals working with mothers in pregnancy and beyond. We are volunteer-led. All our services are free.
  • The RSM concept, and first local groups, were set up by new mum Katy Tuncer in 2010. She began walking with fellow mums together in the fresh air a few weeks after her first son was born, and quickly the group realised the power of community support and the positive effects of actively embracing motherhood together.
  • The idea spread, and new Group Leaders worked together, supporting each other, to build what is now the Socialcise programme.
  • Katy and the Group Leader community consulted with medical and fitness experts, and built the exercise programme content now available on the RSM website, and the groups grew – in number, size, and level of activity.
  • One thing the community noticed was the vital role Health Visitors were playing for many of the mums taking part, so it seemed natural for the Institute of Health Visiting to take the lead in empowering Group Leaders and RSM participants.
  • For more information go to
  • Follow on Facebook at and Twitter @ReadySteadyMums


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