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Healthy Living

Healthy living

Advice and information on healthy living.

Are you worried about being overweight?

Are you worried about being overweight?

Are you worried about yours or your child’s weight?

Maintaining a healthy weight or being in control of your weight is achieved by a combination of a healthy well balanced diet and sufficient exercise or physical activity. 

Being overweight or underweight can affect how you feel about yourself. It can make you feel unhappy and tired. It can also have a serious impact on your health including, raising your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions.

If you want to check whether you or your child are a healthy weight you can check herehttp://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyweightcalculator.aspx

Achieve a healthy weight with our free Adult Weight Management programme.

Imagine achieving your ideal weight without any more yo-yo or fad diets – and no more confusion about what you can or can’t eat!

With the support and expert guidance of our Healthy Lifestyle Coaches and just 13 group sessions, you can learn how to lose weight and keep it off for good and without expensive branded food or supplement products in sight!

If you sign up to our proven 13-week journey you will:

  • Understand what makes you tick, how to retrain your appetite, how to recognise the fullness factor, getting the lifestyle balance right and of course getting active.
  • Learn proven skills and techniques with the support of our coaches to achieve and maintain your ideal healthy weight
  • Build and follow a personal healthy lifestyle plan with realistic targets that work for you
  • Meet new people, share experiences and learn from each other in the friendly, relaxed weekly group sessions

For more information and to find out whether you meet the criteria for the programme please contact us on 020 8724 8018 or look at http://www.gettingactive.co.uk/healthy-lifestyles/active-adults/ for up to date course start dates.

Achieve a healthy weight and get fitter with our Child Weight Management programme

The Change4Life programme combines the importance of a healthy balanced diet and physical activity for children and teenagers above a healthy weight.

It is a fun, free 12 week programme in a friendly group environment where you learn how to make healthy changes.

Programme content

The programmes include:

  • Practical demonstrations, games and tips about healthy foods
  • Cooking classes
  • A tailored activity programme
  • Free access to Active4Life’s programme which includes junior gym, multi sports, gymnastics, aerobics classes and more

Eating well

For information on eating well please see, our page on Healthy Eating


Exercising is a great way to refresh your mind, it increases oxygen and blood flow throughout your body making sure your body receives the healthy nutrition and burns out any excess fat from the food you eat.

Fit for Life in Barking and Dagenham

Fit for Life is an exercise programme run by the Council for people who need support to stay fit and active. It is a prescription for exercise which comes from your doctor if they think you would benefit from exercise. Fit for life includes specially developed exercises for people dealing with conditions such as obesity.

Click here for information on Sports and Leisure in Barking and Dagenham

If you are concerned about being overweight or underweight, visit your doctor for help and advice.

Healthy eating

Healthy eating

It’s important to eat the right foods in the appropriate amounts order to stay fit and healthy.

A healthy diet should include lots of fruit, vegetables and starchy foods such as whole meal bread and wholegrain cereals. You should also have some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, lentils or pulses and some milk and dairy foods.

Choosing to eat the healthy option is important, whether you are planning a meal or just picking up a snack. It's important to eat the right kind of food and the right amount. Eating the right amount means that you will have enough energy for how active you are, and it will stop you putting on weight. Eating the right kind of food means choosing a range of food to make sure you have a varied and balanced diet.

For more information the Food Standards Agency's consumer advice and information website eatwellgives reliable and practical advice about healthy eating, understanding food labels and how what we eat can affect our health.

Visit the NHS Live Well Healthy Eating website

The NHS eatwell page has lots of different tools and information to so you can find out all about healthy eating, including portion control and what foods to avoid.

The eatwell top tips

1.     Don't miss your breakfast

Breakfast sets you up for the day. It kick starts your metabolism and provides your body with energy to get you moving. Missing breakfast won't help you lose weight, because you will be more tempted to snack during the day. Eating breakfast everyday helps to control your need to snack during the day.

2.     Think about your portion size

It is easy to control portion sizes, and it can really help you to keep track of what you are eating. ‘The Eatwell Plate’ shows you what a well balanced and well proportioned plate of food looks like.

3.     Base your meals on starchy foods

Include starchy foods like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. Try to choose wholegrain varieties. You should have one starchy food in every meal.

4.     Eat lots of fruits and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Try to eat at least five portions per day. For information on how much 1 portion is, see NHS Live Well - 5 a day portion sizes

5.     Eat more fish

Fish is a good source of proteins, vitamins and minerals.

6.     Cut down on saturated fat and sugar

Saturated fat can cause cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.

Foods like meat pies, sausage, hard cheese, butter, ghee, lard, cream, sour cream, ice cream, biscuits, pastries and cakes contain saturated fat.

Foods like sweets, deserts, cakes, biscuits and sugary soft drinks contain high amounts of added sugar, which we need to cut down on.

7.     Try to eat less salt - no more than 6g a day

Lots of the food you buy already has a lot of salt in, so remember to check the label. Salt can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease.

8.     Get active and try to be a healthy weight

A healthy weight means neither underweight nor overweight. Achieving a healthy weight requires a combination of a healthy well balanced diet and sufficient exercise or physical activity. If you're worried about your weight, ask your doctor or practice nurse for advice.

9.     Drink plenty of water

Try to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.

A healthy diet will help you and your family to be fit and well.

Further information:



NHS choices – vegetarian and vegan diets


Sexual health

Sexual health

What should I do if I think I have a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STI)?

If you think you may have an STI then it is important to seek medical advice. Any STI left untreated can cause serious health problems. There are many options available:

  • Visit your doctor.
  • Visit one of the Terence Higgins Trust clinics across the borough.
  • Visit the Sydenham Centre at Barking Hospital.
  • Visit the Queen's Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic at Queen's Hospital.

Some local pharmacies also provide test kits to screen for a Chlamydia Infection. Chlamydia is the most common STI in England and in most cases occurs without symptoms. For further information, please contact your local pharmacy. 


There are several forms of contraception available, including short term and long term reversible contraception. For further information and advice on choosing the best contraception methods for you, contact your local doctor or family planning clinic.

In addition to the contraceptive advice available at your doctor’s practice or local clinics, the FPA (Family Planning Association) is the UK's leading sexual health charity. They work to enable people to make informed choices about sex and to enjoy sexual health and aim to provide high quality information and services.

Some local pharmacies also provide some sexual health services such as, condom distribution, Emergency Hormonal Contraception (also known as the morning after pill) for young women. For further details, please contact your local pharmacy.


HIV is also a sexually transmitted infection. If you are worried about HIV and AIDS, visit our information page by clicking the button below.


Useful contacts

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals (NHS Trust):
If you're worried about sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy issues or simply require sexual health advice and support: please call 01708 503838 or visit http://www.bhrhospitals.nhs.uk/our-services/sexual-health.htm for the list of services provided by the Integrated Sexual Health and Reproductive Health Service, for people living in Barking, Havering and Redbridge.

Phone: 0800 282 930

Terrence Higgins Trust 
Address: Terrence Higgins Trust, 314 – 320 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8DP 
Phone: 0808 802 1221
Web: www.tht.org.uk 
Email: info@tht.org.uk

Brook Advisory Service
Phone: 0808 802 1234 
Web: http://www.brook.org.uk/

Family Planning Association (FPA)
Phone: 0845 122 8690
Web: www.fpa.org.uk

Contraception and Emergency Contraception
Web: www.youngpeoplefriendly.co.uk

Sexual Health Line (NHS)
Phone: 0800 567 123 (24 hours)
Web: www.condomessentialwear.co.uk

It's important to pay attention to your sexual health, no matter what your age.

Teenage parents

We provide lots of specialist services aimed at teenage parents so you can continue to think about a career and provide the best start for your children.

Here are just some of them.


  • Maternity services for pregnant teenagers.
  • Post-natal services - support for new young parents and their babies, up to the age of two weeks.
  • Child Health clinics - for teenage parents and their children, aged 0 - 5.
  • Play and communication groups for teenage parents and their children.

Activities and Support

  • "Tots and Teens" groups for young parents and their children.
  • Outreach and family support, both at day centres and at home.

Education and Employment

  • It can be hard to stay in education when facing the challenges of being a teenage parent. The Accipio Programme is an e-project (online) that enables you to continue your education and get GCSEs in a variety of subjects.
  • The Home Access Project can help you to complete coursework at home.
  • Other services provide help with education, training and employment.

Visit our pages on Teenage Pregnancy and Sexual Health for more information

How do I get in touch?

All these services are available through the 18 Children's Centres in the borough so there is always something close to where you live. Contact your closest Children's Centre and they will either provide the service you want, or advise where it is available in the borough.

Leys Children’s Centre
Address: Leys Avenue. Dagenham, RM10 9YR
Phone: 020 8724 1983

Wellgate Children’s Centre
Address: 119 Rose Lane, Chadwell Heath, RM6 5NR
Phone: 020 8270 6091

Becontree Children’s Centre
Address: Stevens Road, Dagenham, RM 8 2QR
Phone: 020 8724 1830

Abbey Children’s Centre
Address: North Street, Barking, IG 11 8JA
Phone: 020 8724 1262

Gascoigne Children’s Centre
Address: St Ann’s, Barking, IG11 7DR
Phone: 020 8724 1147

Eastbury Children’s Centre
Address: Blake Avenue, Barking, IG11 9SQ
Phone: 020 8274 1950

Sue Bramley Children’s Centre
Address: Bastable Avenue. Barking, IG11 0LG
Phone: 020 8270 6619

William Bellamy Children’s Centre
Address: Frizlands Lane, Dagenham, RM10 7HX
Phone: 020 8724 1924

Heathway Children Centre

Address: 512a Heathway, Dagenham, Essex RM10 7SJ

Why not visit the netmums website which offers infomation about Barking and Dagenham Children Centres, and is packed with infomation for families.


Health information at your local library

Are you looking for ways to improve your health and wellbeing? Getting more information can help.

Your local library has lots of information and resources that can help you understand your problems better. You can take your own time to learn about what can help, and do this at home or in the quiet space of your local library.

Our libraries contain books, CDs, and DVDs, as well as providing internet access. There are lots of specialist materials available which are free to use and borrow.

Books on Prescription

What is it?

Books on Prescription is a service from the Primary Mental Health Team and Barking and Dagenham Library Service.

There are self-help books available from all of the borough's libraries. Some of these books have been assessed and recommended by Mental Health professionals for the Books on Prescription service. They cover subjects such as depression, stress, anxiety, anger, panic and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Following a discussion with a doctor, nurse, or mental health professional, you might be given a "prescription" for a relevant book to enable you to learn more about your health problems. Knowing more about these issues can help you to manage them.  

What do I need to do?

You can then take your prescription to be exchanged for the book at your nearest Barking and Dagenham library. If you need help to find the title, you can ask the library staff to assist you. If the book is not on the shelves, library staff will reserve it for you. This service is both free and confidential. 

How long can I borrow the book for?

Books can be borrowed for three weeks and can be renewed either in person, by telephone, or online, free of charge.

How will this help me?

Knowing more about your health and wellbeing can help you to understand yourself better. Most of the self-help books have a very structured approach, and offer complete step-by-step treatment programmes with exercises and self assessments. 

What if I am not a member of the library?

You can join any of the borough's libraries for free by filling in an application form and producing either your prescription, or two forms of identification. If you need any help with joining the library, staff will be able to assist you.

Joining the library

What if I can't get to a library?

The library service has a Home Library Service which can deliver the books to your door.

The Home Library Service

Visit the Libraries home page to find out more about libraries in the borough

More information can be found here

Exercise on referral

Exercise on referral is where doctors or other health professionals can refer individuals who they feel would benefit from physical activity and help them improve their medical conditions.

The exercise on referral programme is for Barking and Dagenham residents aged 18 +, who are suffering from a medical condition and would like to improve their health through physical activity and lifestyle change.

To find out more please click the link below.

Exercise on referral