What is LEAP CAN?

LEAP’s Community based Activity and Nutrition programme (CAN) is designed for pregnant women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 and over living in the LEAP areas of Stockwell, Tulse Hill, Coldharbour and Vassall.

The CAN programme helps to support these women to make healthy lifestyle changes that will improve both their own health and their baby’s health.

Body Mass Index

What is a Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Body Mass Index is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy.

The BMI calculation works by dividing an adult's weight into kilograms by their height in metres squared.

Why is it important to have a low BMI?

Many women who carry excess weight have no problems in pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby, however a high BMI can contribute to a range of problems including miscarriage, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

In addition, it may cause babies to be born with below or above average birth weight, which in turn can lead to health risks in childhood and later life.

Aims of CAN

The aim of the programme is to positively impact on the following outcome:

  • Reduce the number of birth complications associated with a BMI of 25 or above.
  • Reduce the proportion of babies who are born large for gestational age.
  • Improve early detection and management of gestational diabetes.
  • Enhancement of nutritional knowledge and make positive dietary behaviour changes.
  • Improve pregnant women’s understanding of healthy eating directly related to their cultural needs/eating habits.
  • Encourage and facilitate physical activity.
  • Increase awareness of local opportunities/initiatives that support the development and maintenance of healthy lifestyles, and of how to access them.
  • Reduce social isolation.
  • Improve understanding of breastfeeding and increase breastfeeding rates.
  • Increase pregnant women’s confidence, their ability to change their behaviour and make healthy choices for themselves and their families.
  • A reduction in the number of children who are overweight or obese at two years old.

What happens on the CAN programme?

The LEAP CAN programme is not about dieting or losing weight. It is based on making small but specific changes to eating and activity behaviour to help pregnant women maintain better control of their blood sugar levels.

  • During weeks 14 and 28 of pregnancy, participants will meet with a health trainer to develop their own unique eating and activity plan. The health trainer will then support them in making healthy lifestyle changes.
  • The women will be encouraged to attend eight, 60-minute, weekly group sessions led by the health trainer. In these sessions, they will have the opportunity to meet other women who are also trying to make similar changes during their pregnancy. We strongly encourage women to take part in the group sessions, which will be informal, however one-to-one sessions can also be arranged.

In the sessions:

  • Discuss different physical activities and nutrition topics – a chance to learn new information and skills.
  • Be given a pedometer and guidance on setting daily step targets.
  • Set weekly dietary goals – such as food swaps.
  • Receive a LEAP CAN handbook which will support them in making their changes.
  • Explore recipe adaptation and healthier ways to prepare family meals.
  • Take part in interesting discussions and fun activities with their group/ health trainer.
  • Take part in problem solving and learning how to develop solutions together.
  • Participants will also be offered a practical cooking session, which they can attend with other family members, and an antenatal appointment with their LEAP CAN midwife that will focus on preparing them for breastfeeding.

Theory, evidence and outcomes


The CAN study has been tested in the Lambeth community over the last five years and we have had very positive feedback from the women who took part. CAN was part of a larger study called UPBEA[GW1] T (UK Pregnancies Better Eating and Activity Trial) which was undertaken in different cities in England and Scotland.

The UPBEAT study showed that support from health trainers significantly helped women change their diet. This programme has since been modified with the help of local parents to reflect the needs of LEAP pregnant women.



Women in the LEAP area who meet the CAN criteria will be offered the opportunity to join the programme after they have had their first appointment with their midwife. The programme is suitable for women of all ages and backgrounds including those who speak limited English.

Group and/or one-to-one sessions will begin at the locations below during the week commencing 11th January 2016. The one-to-one sessions can take place at home if more convenient.

  • Jubilee Children’s Centre, Tulse Hill
  • Liz Atkinson Children’s Centre, Vassall
  • Community midwives centre at King’s College Hospital

If you have further questions or wish to take part, please contact:

Sheila O’Connor LEAP CAN Midwife

E: CAN@gstt.nhs.uk

Current activity schedule

There are a variety of classes available across the LEAP area including local walks, aqua based activities and exercise classes. 

Click here to download a list of current actitivies along with details of how you can take part.

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