Pupils at Tawhero and Westmere schools in Whanganui are helping the River City Health Trust with a pilot project which aims to help prevent obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Trust members Mike Webber and Dr Robin McLaughlin were at Tawhero School last week using a bio-impedance device which measures body composition.

Tori Maraku 8, was working with Dr McLaughlin to test her Body Mass Index before she started a step exercise so the doctor could test her pulse rate using a phone app which provides a simple fitness assessment.

The River City Health Trust, established in June last year, aims to bridge the gap between GPs and hospitals by conducting preventative and diagnostic testing.


Mr Webber said the pilot project with schools is supported by Powerco and the aim is to work with young children and their families to tackle diseases that are preventable.

"The trust considers it is important to prevent those conditions and the process must start with young children," said Mr Webber.

Older children will also be asked to participate in the project and 11-13 year-old male and female students will be tested.

"Teenagers must be taught the value of exercise and dietary control."
"By avoiding obesity, and developing and enjoyment of activity, their quality of life will be high," said Mr Webber.

In the interests of privacy, the individual results will be available only to the participants and their families.

Mr Webber said the trust is also working with Massey University Sport Science and Research Lab on testing the fitness of rowers.

"They will be coming here to work with us on testing the fitness levels of athletes paddling waka on the river."

Mr Webber said the rowers will be tested at all stages - from beginners to long-term athletes to measure the effects that rowing has on fitness levels.