Liverpool City Council has announced plans to offer free gym memberships to thousands of children under the age of five in a bid to tackle the city's growing obesity problem.
The pioneering scheme will be available at 13 Lifestyles fitness centres offering babies and toddlers the chance to take part in activities such as dance classes and basic ball exercises.
In addition to the under-fives Futures programme, 1,600 low-income families will also be given the opportunity to join a Lifestyles for free. Children aged five to 16 and the over 60s can already get free Lifestyles membership.
The initiative, which it is believed will benefit 65,000 children in Liverpool, comes after research found half of 11-year-old boys and 40% of 11-year-old girls in Liverpool were overweight.
The study also found that one in 20 of Liverpool's children was clinically obese and a further one in three did not do enough exercise.
Council leader Warren Bradley said: "As a nation I believe it is our primary duty to do all we can to give our children the healthiest possible start in life and in Liverpool we are exploring every possible avenue."
"I think this is a fantastic idea and about time coming! My grandson would really enjoy this and I belive it is important to introduce exercise to him from an early age and have fun whilst keeping fit" – Donna Reid, Liverpool