Slimming World welcomes Prime Minister's pledge to tackle obesity
As the Prime Minister demands action to tackle the UK’s obesity crisis, Slimming World, the UK’s leading weight loss organisation, is poised to return to groups as soon as it is safe to do so, to support the millions of people whose weight puts them at the greatest risk of being most severely affected by Covid-19.
In the meantime, Slimming World has temporarily transformed its in-person groups to a ‘virtual' group service, which gives vital support to members as they do their best to maintain a healthy weight during lockdown. The latest Covid-19 statistics show that managing a healthy weight has never been more important to public health.
Early evidence on the spectrum of symptoms caused by Covid-19 has identified that people with obesity could have an increased risk of dying from the virus by 37%. In addition, recent statistics from the Office of National Statistics show that 25% of those who died because of Covid-19 were people with diabetes - Type 2 diabetes being a condition commonly linked with obesity.
Caryl Richards, CEO of Slimming World, said: “I was delighted to read about the Prime Minister’s commitment to making responsible weight management a renewed focus in tackling obesity because of its link to Covid 19 and we are offering our expertise and support in this huge challenge.
“Slimming World already plays an essential role in the health of the nation. In normal circumstances, our 19,000 weekly community groups provide support to nearly 1 million members. Those groups are currently temporarily suspended following the lockdown in March, and while we are successfully running a temporary virtual service for our members - still through our 4,500 self-employed Consultants - we are poised to reopen our doors, as soon as it is safe to do so, to support people in their own communities to lose weight, remain slim and improve health outcomes.”
Slimming World already plays an essential role in the health of the nation.
Ms Richards added: “Even as the whole country went into lockdown, the government recognised the benefits of exercise to mental and physical health, but exercise alone will not solve the problems of obesity. Slimming World exists to facilitate behavioural change to support our members. Through our unique peer support programme members learn sustainable habits to eat healthily and enjoy the benefits of physical activity, to lose weight successfully and remain slim for life.
“The NHS is doing the most amazing work in its response to the pandemic, but it simply does not have the essential resources - especially now - to help people manage their weight. Slimming World is an essential partner in helping people at extra risk from Covid-19 - we already work with the government through PHE and with the NHS through our referral service - and we need to open our groups as soon as, within government guidelines, it is safe to do so."
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. Following the suspension of weekly groups as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Slimming World has launched a temporary virtual service so members can continue to enjoy – in a virtual environment – the vital weight-loss support, but also friendship and community spirit they find in their local group each week. 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.