Breaking out of old habits saw Leon lose 3.5st


Prison worker Leon McInnes, 45, from the Isle of Wight, made a clean break during lockdown and lost 3.5st after joining Slimming World through Public Health England’s Better Health campaign, escaping future health problems and finding freedom from his fast-food habit.

“I joined Slimming World in January 2021 weighing over 18st. I’d been struggling to even climb a flight of stairs without getting out of breath, I felt I was sweating profusely all the time and suffered with aches and pains in all my joints. I took a long hard look at myself, and I knew I needed to do something. When a colleague at work mentioned PHE’s Better Health Slimming World group offer, I took the opportunity to join and I’m so glad I did.

“I’d joined a local Slimming World group a few years ago in 2017 and I lost 2st back then. Then I stopped going to the group as I moved house and before long, I piled the weight back on. Knowing I’d had success before with Slimming World, it was an easy decision to make.

“I’ve changed so many habits after listening to the group’s Consultant Kim and the other members – we all support each other and share tips to help us get through the tougher weeks.”

Leon’s incredible weight-loss success backs up data from Slimming World which found that people who joined a Slimming World group through the Better Health campaign, lost an average of 7lbs in just six weeks [1].

PHE has recently launched the latest Better Health campaign to encourage adults across the nation to lose excess weight, eat more healthily and get active this summer after a survey revealed that over 4 in 10 (41%) adults in England say they have put on weight since the first lockdown in March 2020 [2].

This new data corresponds with Slimming World’s own research that found people experienced increased snacking, not exercising as much as usual, increased anxiety or stress, and not being able get hold of healthier food during the first lockdown. However, participants who continued to get support from a slimming club continued to lose weight during this time, exercised more and reported higher overall wellbeing compared to respondents from the general population [3].

Leon says: “Before joining, I would think nothing of polishing off a half a box of cereal and if there were spare bits and pieces left in a few boxes, I would chuck it all in the same bowl and mix it up. Dinner was always ready meals, pot noodles and takeaways like pizza or Chinese and if I was eating out, I would always size up to make the meals bigger.

“Together with the support of my partner Jacqui and my friend Lauren who both also go to the Carisbrooke Slimming World group, I now plan my meals. Jacqui and Lauren have helped me a lot with guidance on how to prepare healthier meals and I’ve got back into cooking using recipes from the Slimming World books, especially seafood and pasta dishes - Linguine Marinara is a recipe I keep going back to, it’s delicious! I still enjoy my breakfast cereal however I measure it out and enjoy it with semi-skimmed milk rather than full fat. At work, Slimming World friendly meals are on offer, so I’ve been taking full advantage of those.

“Looking back, it’s crystal clear to me now that the lifestyle I chose before joining Slimming World was the result of my mood at the time. I had some life-changing events consisting of serious illness and a death in the family. A sudden change in job and having to move away from home resulted in me suffering from mental health worries and I started to take anti-depressants. I’d lost interest in looking after myself properly and was using food as a comfort.

I wasn’t active at all before joining Slimming World and now I walk for at least 40 minutes each day. 
Leon McInnes, Slimming World Member

"My breathing is better, and my aches and pains have gone. I’m so proud of how I’ve turned my life around. Thanks to the support I get from my Slimming World group, I feel stronger and healthier than ever.”


Group: Leon attends the Carisbrooke Slimming World group on the Isle of Wight which is run by Consultant Kim Street. For more information or to find your nearest group, visit slimmingworld.co.uk.

Vital Statistics: Leon McInnes

Starting weight: 18st 13.5lbs

Weight loss: 3st 7lbs

Current weight: 15st 6.5lbs


Breakfast: Large bowls of cereal or breakfasts from fast-food restaurants

Lunch: Large mixed grills and desserts, or pot noodles

Dinner: Takeaways like pizza, Chinese or Indian

Snacks: Anything including cereal, chocolate, crisps, ice cream


Breakfast: Cereal measured out at 40g, with semi-skimmed milk and fruit

Lunch: Healthy chicken curry or Diet Coke chicken with plain boiled rice or salad (no dressing). Or ham, chicken or turkey slices with salads and vegetables appropriately

Dinner: Healthy homecooked meals with flavoured rice, salads and vegetables. For dessert, low fat Greek yoghurt with fruit

Snacks: Fruit, or carrot or celery sticks with the occasional low-fat dip or low-fat yoghurt


[1] 1,733 people attended in-person and virtual groups due to restrictions changing during their membership, while 202 people attended all sessions virtually. Researchers at Slimming World evaluated data from a sample of 1,935 members who joined a Slimming World group between 12th October and 17th November 2020 and were asked about the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions.

[2] Opinium conducted an online survey with a nationally representative sample of 5,000 English adults aged 18+ from Friday 2nd July to Thursday 8th July.

  1. To calculate average weight gain we have assumed that those that selected “up to half a stone” have put on 3.3lbs on average, those that selected “Put on half a stone to 1 stone” have put on 9.95lbs on average, those that selected “Put on 1 stone to 1.4 stone” have put on 16.55lbs on average, and those that selected “Put on more than 1.4 stone” have put on 22lbs on average.

[3] Between 9 April and 16 May 2020, 222 Slimming World members* (94% female, average age 52 years) and a representative sample of 637 adults in the general population completed an online survey asking their opinions about their general health, mood, diet, alcohol intake, physical activity, and weight management.

Notes to Editors:

Slimming World is working in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) to support the nation to make a fresh start to a healthier way of life following the disruption to our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Better Health campaign is designed to support you to make healthy changes. If you’d like to get expert help to discover healthy habits for lifelong weight-loss success, sign up to our exclusive Better Health Slimming World offer.

About Slimming World

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE in Derbyshire in 1969 and has become the UK and Ireland’s leading weight loss organisation with more people choosing to attend a Slimming World group each week than any other weight loss programme. We support hundreds of thousands of people, both in our groups and online, to lose weight and to adopt new habits to stay slim for life.

Over the years our founding principles haven’t changed:

  • Our unique programme is based on a powerfully motivating support system called IMAGE (Individual Motivation and Group Experience) Therapy. Underpinned by a deep understanding of the psychology of overweight people, and incorporating the most effective sustainable behaviour change techniques, IMAGE Therapy is designed to inspire and motivate slimmers to make positive changes and to develop new, healthier habits around food and activity.
  • Food Optimising is our healthy eating plan, based on the liberating concept of Free Food. We encourage our members to fill up on those foods that are naturally lower in energy density (calories per gram) and also highly satisfying while limiting foods that are highest in fat and sugar and are less satisfying, so they lose weight without ever feeling hungry or deprived and without having to weigh, measure or count everything they eat.
  • Our activity programme, Body Magic, encourages members to become more active, more often in ways that they enjoy, until regular physical activity becomes an intrinsic part of daily routine.
  • Above all, at the heart of everything we do, lies our passion for treating every member with genuine care, empathy and respect.

We’re proud to work with the NHS, Public Health England, The Royal College of Midwives and others to help shape the future of weight management in the UK.

For further information please contact the Slimming World press office on email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk