Government strategy to tackle obesity must address the psychological impact of weight too, says Slimming World
Slimming World welcomes the Government’s commitment to helping people living with excess weight to improve their health and seizing this crucial moment in time when the risk to health from Covid-19 makes us all so much more vulnerable. We particularly welcome the recognition of the vital role weight-management organisations play in helping people to lose weight.
Commenting on the news of the new Government focus on obesity and the launch of the new Public Health England (PHE) Better Health campaign, Slimming World’s Director of External Affairs Jenny Caven says: “The package of measures that has been announced is a positive step forward. However, the truth is that these legislative measures, like regulating junk food advertising or promotion and implementing calorie labelling, do not and cannot address the complex way that we think about food, or our attitude to weight and the process of losing weight, which is vital for a successful and sustainable weight-management campaign in the weeks and months ahead.
“Equally, it is a misconception that exercise alone will solve obesity. Research shows that it is much easier to lose weight through changing what you eat than through increasing activity. And there can be many barriers, both physical and mental, which make it hard to be active enough to achieve weight loss, particularly for those carrying a lot of excess weight. Successful weight-loss campaigns require support for people to make deep-rooted changes and address eating and drinking habits. As the Prime Minister has today acknowledged, losing weight can be hard and changing the habits of a lifetime takes real and sustained effort. In order to achieve their goal of helping people to urgently make changes to their whole lifestyles, any solution must consider and address the psychological as well as physiological impact of weight on health. Providing people with effective, empathetic support – as we’ve been doing at Slimming World for more than 50 years – to eat more healthily and become more active, and to do both in ways they can sustain for the long term, is the only way to create lasting change.
“Slimming World already works with the Government via Public Health England – we are delighted to be partners in the new Better Health campaign – and with the NHS throughout our ‘slimming on referral’ service. Our research of 1.1m members shows that on average Slimming World members lose a clinically significant 5% of their body weight (9.9lbs) within three months. People need to urgently make changes to their whole lifestyles and Slimming World is ready and able to help even more people to do that.
Providing people with effective, empathetic support is essential.
“Asking GPs to support patients to lose weight can only succeed when they have access to effective, evidence-based solutions nationwide and the understanding that those who struggle with their weight should be treated with compassion and care. Nearly 20 years ago Slimming World pioneered referral and partnership with the health service, and independent research shows it is a cost-effective and successful system – with Slimming World leading to greater weight loss in 12 months than any other weight-loss organisation. We have long campaigned for training for health professionals around weight too, and would like to see the introduction of a training module applicable to all undergraduate and professional studies that addresses ‘raising the issue’ of weight sensitively, without judgement, criticism or humiliation.
“We also support any measures aimed at making it easier for people to make healthy choices in their day-to-day life. Last year our Health on the Shelf campaign, in partnership with the Royal Society for Public Health, called on the Government to commit to legislation to support supermarkets in promoting healthier choices, we have campaigned for calorie labels to be included on alcoholic drinks to help people make informed choices, and we have worked to raise awareness of the impact of upselling on obesity levels. However, while changes like this are a step forward, they don’t address our complex relationship with food or the psychological barriers to weight loss.
“The measures outlined today will take time to put into action and – thanks to the way we’ve innovated to enable us to continue to provide life-changing weight-loss support to our members via an emergency virtual service over the past four months – we’re already helping people across the UK and Ireland to lose weight and transform their health and we’re poised to make a difference to the lives of even more Slimming World members and their families at this crucial time.”
Kal Flynn, 50, from Luton, lost more than 5st after being referred to her local Slimming World group by her GP.
She says: “My GP listened as I told him how worried I was about my weight, and how it might affect my future health as my mum had suffered a stroke just 15 months before. I wanted to be there for my mum and my two children. He nodded and said ‘I can offer you 12 weeks’ free membership of a Slimming World group. I decided I had nothing to lose. With the support of my Slimming World Consultant Gary and the rest of the group, my faith in my ability to lose weight felt stronger than ever.”
About Slimming World
Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. There are now more than 19,000 weekly groups supporting 900,000 members across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Groups are run by a network of 5,000 community-based Slimming World Consultants, who receive specific training in the role of diet and physical activity in weight management, as well as sophisticated behaviour-change techniques. Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety and energy density. Our phased activity programme, Body Magic, eases members into activity until it becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine. The principles behind Slimming World’s philosophy are based on a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people who are overweight and recognition that those who struggle with weight carry a double burden, the weight itself and a burden of guilt and shame about their weight. Slimming World’s programme integrates practical, up-to-date advice with a highly developed support system based on care and compassion, and Consultant training focuses on facilitating, encouraging and empowering members to make changes in a supportive, warm and friendly group environment. Consultant training is delivered through the Slimming World Academy. Slimming World also invests in a comprehensive research programme to develop its support for long-term weight management. The group support provided by Slimming World is recognised as effective by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.
For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk. Follow Slimming World on Twitter at www.twitter.com/slimmingworld or become a Slimming World fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/slimmingworld
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