Brighton and Hove Albion and The Football League Trust are leading the fight against childhood obesity in Brighton and Hove.

Evidence showing a reduction in childhood obesity rates is being linked to an increase in initiatives to tackle the problem as schools across the city break up for the summer.

The current school year has seen Albion in the Community work alongside, Brighton and Hove City Council, The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, The Football League Trust, Infinity Foods, Radius Healthcare and American Express to deliver programmes in 20 schools across the city to encourage children to be more physically active and adopt healthier lifestyles.

'Make a Change', the largest of these initiatives, and funded by The Football League Trust, has worked with nearly 2,000 primary and junior pupils in 15 schools across the city this year. The six-week long programmes see Albion in the Community staff and American Express trained volunteers deliver physical activity and healthy eating sessions with groups of up to 30 children at time. Schools involved in this year's programme have seen a 70% increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten by those children taking part.

Meanwhile, the most recent figures available from the National Child Weight Measurement progamme show the proportion of Year 6 children in Brighton and Hove who are categorised as obese is nearly 4% less than the national average of 19.2%. The figures also show a slight decrease over the last five years in the proportion of obese 10-11 year-olds in Brighton and Hove.

Stuart Christie Head of AITC Health said: "The key to the success of these programmes is not only working with the children but also engaging the parents and the teachers so that behaviour and habits learned during our sessions can be maintained outside of school and in the home. We have a real focus on working in schools in areas of high health inequalities and we will continue to do that with next year's programme."

David Brindley, Physical Activity Lead, Brighton and Hove City Council Public Health added: "We are in a better position than England as a whole and these programmes are definitely making a difference. However, childhood obesity is still a major problem in Brighton and Hove. The key is to tackle it at an early age and teach children and their families about the benefits of healthy eating and how they can do it simply on a low budget."

Volunteers from American Express were joined by Gully as they took part in one of the last Make a Change sessions of the year in Brighton and Hove at St. Joseph's School in Hollingdean.

Make A Change