Isabelle says ‘no’ to surgery and ‘yes’ to 9½st weight loss!

A teenager who was warned she could face weight loss surgery if she didn’t slim down has wowed doctors by losing nearly half her body weight naturally – and transforming her health as a result.

Isabelle Kennedy was just 15 when her doctors told her that if she couldn’t lose some weight on her own, they were going to have to consider her for a gastric bypass – a weight loss procedure that works by drastically reducing the size of a patient’s stomach. However, despite weighing more than 20st, she was so determined not to go under the knife that she embarked on her own weight loss journey by joining Slimming World, and today she is an incredible 9st 8lbs lighter.

Now 18 and weighing 11st 3lbs, 5ft 10in Isabelle says: “During secondary school I was diagnosed with a form of liver disease and the doctors informed me that it was linked to obesity and losing weight would help. Weight loss surgery was never an option for me, so I joined Slimming World and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve now reversed the effects of the liver disease and have been discharged from hospital, which is an amazing feeling and my doctors are really pleased with me.”

Isabelle, who lives in Bexhill-on-Sea with her mother Su and brother Joe, has been named Slimming World’s Young Slimmer of the Year 2017 in recognition of her inspirational achievement.

Isabelle had been overweight since childhood – she started gaining weight from the age of four – and her mum desperately consulted the family GP and dietitians about her increasing size. Unfortunately, nothing they tried seemed to work and Isabelle gained more and more weight. During her time at secondary school she gained around 8st as she increasingly turned to food for comfort and would stock up on unhealthy snacks from the local shop on her way home from school. Isabelle’s weight also led to embarrassing experiences including once getting stuck on a water slide.

Isabelle Kennedy, Young Slimmer of the Year 2017
Weight loss surgery was never an option for me, so I joined Slimming World and I haven’t looked back since.
Isabelle Kennedy, Young Slimmer of the Year 2017

After being diagnosed with liver disease and facing the possible reality of surgery, in October 2014 Isabelle was inspired to give Slimming World a try by her mum, who had recently become a member of a local group. Isabelle says: “After a few weeks of seeing the types of food she could eat and how she was losing weight, I decided to give it a go. With the diets I’d tried before, I hated the feeling of being deprived, but with Slimming World I never feel hungry or deprived because you can fill up on lots of foods until you’re satisfied. My mum’s lost 5st now too – so we’ve lost more than 14st between us!”

While Isabelle was nervous about joining Slimming World as she expected to be the only young person in the group, she got a warm welcome and says she has made some great friends there. She says: “To someone thinking of joining, I’d always say, ‘please remember that we’re all in the same boat, we’re there for the same reason’. Everyone’s always so willing to help and, far from dreading it, I look forward to seeing everyone on a Tuesday night now.”

At just 15 Isabelle initially followed Slimming World’s specially-designed Free2Go plan for 11-15 year olds*, which focuses on encouraging young people to make small changes and develop healthy habits rather than on weight loss. She now follows the Food Optimising eating plan, which sees members satisfy their appetite freely on a long list of filling foods like fruit and veg, pasta, rice, potatoes, lean meat, fish and more, which form the basis of lots of healthy home-cooked meals.

She says: “One of my favourite Slimming World meals is BBQ pulled pork, I love being able to prepare it quickly before college in the morning, leave it in the slow cooker all day and then come home to a delicious dinner. The biggest thing for me to overcome was stopping the emotional eating though, which meant finding other ways of coping – now I find going for a long walk with my dog Millie or a run after college is a great way to relax after a stressful day. It’s crazy as I used to dread any kind of activity because I’d worry what I looked like and got out of breath, but not anymore.”

Isabelle, who has dropped from 20st 11lbs and a size 22/24 to 11st 3lbs and a size 10/12, has put her new techniques to great use recently after completing her A-Levels and says her weight loss has also boosted her attendance and confidence at college. She hopes to go to university to study psychology this autumn.

She says: “I honestly feel that without having lost the weight, I wouldn’t have even thought about going to university as I wouldn’t have believed in myself enough. I used to feel self-conscious about talking to people because I thought they’d be secretly judging me for being so big. After losing the weight and being discharged from hospital, I feel full of self-confidence and like I’ll be able to meet new friends at university and enter the world of work when the time comes.

“While I absolutely know it works for some people, I don’t think I’d have had the same sense of achievement if I’d lost weight thanks to surgery and I’m so glad I did this myself. I hit my target weight in February this year and I’ve maintained my weight loss for five months now, even during my exams, so I’m definitely confident I’ve discovered healthy habits that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Being named Young Slimmer of the Year is a brilliant bonus too!”


Name: Isabelle Kennedy

Age: 18

Height: 5ft 10in/1.78m

Starting weight: 20st 11lbs/291lbs/132kg

Current weight: 11st 3lbs/157lbs/71kg

Weight loss: 9st 8lbs/134lbs/61kg

Starting dress size: 22/24

Current dress size: 10/12

Date joined Slimming World: October 2014

Group: Isabelle attends the Bexhill group run by Slimming World Consultant Anne-Marie Burke

Before menu

Breakfast: usually nothing

Mid-morning: sweets or crisps bought on the way to school

Lunch: chicken and mayo baguette (white)

Mid-afternoon: crisps, biscuits, sweets and chocolate after school

Dinner: a whole pizza and chips

Evening: ice cream, more chocolate and often picking at leftovers too

After menu

Breakfast: poached eggs, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and baked beans on wholemeal toast

Mid-morning: apple or banana

Lunch: a jacket potato filled with tuna and sweetcorn and a big side salad

Mid-afternoon: a fat-free yogurt and some strawberries

Dinner: fajita rice bowl with salad or BBQ pulled pork with Slimming World-style chips and salad

Evening: Oreo ice cream sandwich or a chocolate bar.

Notes to Editors

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. There are now more than 18,000 groups held weekly across the UK and Republic of Ireland via a network of 4,000 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 overweight people and a 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 behaviour change in a 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 Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000.

For the Press Office please email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk