Teenager Holly loses 8st after surgery warning

  • Holly Bolton, 18, has been named Slimming World’s Young Slimmer of the Year 2020 after losing almost half her bodyweight
  • She was told by her dietitian that the only way she would lose weight was to have bariatric surgery
  • Holly is now looking forward to a bright future after losing an incredible 8st with Slimming World
  • The A-level student is currently attending a virtual version of her Slimming World group to continue to get vital weight-loss support and stay connected to her fellow slimmers during the Coronavirus crisis

A student from Essex has lost almost half of her body weight to be named Slimming World’s Young Slimmer of the Year 2020 – following a stark warning from her dietitian.

Holly Bolton, 18, from Brentwood, has lost more than 8st with Slimming World since she was told that she would only be able to achieve a healthy weight with the help of bariatric surgery.

After struggling with her weight for much of her childhood, Holly was referred to a dietitian at the age of 11, when she weighed around 15st. It was at this time she was told it was unlikely she would ever be able to lose such a large amount of weight without a weight-loss operation.

She says: “Doctors noticed that my weight was becoming an issue and so I was referred to a dietitian. It wasn’t a nice experience at all – I had hospital appointments which I found really traumatic. At just 12 I was told that I wouldn’t be able lose the weight without surgery, which is quite a lot to process at such a young age.

“The warnings did nothing to spur me on to lose weight – they actually had the opposite effect because I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that I turned to food for comfort and gained even more weight. It came at a time when I was being badly bullied at school as well, so it was all just too much. I couldn’t see how I would ever lose weight.”

Sadly Holly’s struggles as an overweight youngster aren’t unusual. In the UK today, one in ten (9.5%) children aged between four and five years old and one in five (20.1%) children aged between 10 and 11 years old are classed as ‘obese’.[1]

Shortly after the stark warning, Holly’s mum heard about Slimming World when a leaflet was posted through their door and she suggested the two of them join together. Slimming World offers unique support to young people. Adolescents aged between 11 and 15 attend a group for free if they are accompanied by a fee-paying parent or guardian who is responsible for their meals.

Holly says: “Despite being just 12 I’d already tried lots of ways of losing weight – from calorie-controlled diets to soups and shakes. Of course, they never worked for me because they were too restrictive and I just couldn’t stick to them – it was never a lifestyle change.”

Holly Bolton, Slimming World's Young Slimmer of the Year 2020
“The warnings did nothing to spur me on to lose weight – they actually had the opposite effect because I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that I turned to food for comfort and gained even more weight.
Holly Bolton, Slimming World's Young Slimmer of the Year 2020

Holly followed Slimming World’s Free2Go eating plan, designed specifically for young people, which encourages 11-15 year olds to fill up on fruit, vegetables and other low energy dense, satisfying foods such as lean meats, poultry, fish, pasta, potatoes and rice, while gradually reducing intake of more energy dense, fatty and sugary foods. The emphasis is on healthy eating and increased physical activity, rather than weight loss.

Holly, who lives with her parents and two brothers, found the plan easy to follow. She says: “I always associated losing weight with not eating anything, so it came as a bit of a surprise when I realised I could still eat quite a lot while losing weight! My whole family were really supportive and enjoyed the same meals as me and Mum – family favourites like spaghetti Bolognese or homemade curry were still on the menu so it made it easy for everyone to get on board. It helped me to learn about food and cooking too – I’m quite the chef now!”

Over a period of nearly six years, Holly steadily slimmed from 18st 5½lbs to 10st and now feels healthier than ever. She says: “I remember being so down on myself because of my size and it’s like I’ve been freed of that now. Simple things like going clothes shopping used to be awful and I’d end up buying whatever I could in a size 24. Now I can experiment with different styles and swap clothes with my friends. I have clothes in a size 8 which still blows my mind a bit!”

As well as a new-found confidence, Holly has also unearthed a passion for exercise. She says: “Before I lost weight I never used to do any physical activity because I was so unfit that I’d get out of breath after just a few minutes. I started going to the gym which is such a big thing for me – even having the confidence to walk into a gym is something I never could have done when I weighed 18st. I really enjoy the feeling of challenging myself and feeling positive about my body and what it can achieve.

“I was a bit apprehensive about joining Slimming World, too – I thought I would be judged for being overweight at such a young age and that nobody would take me seriously. I couldn’t have been more wrong though – I was made to feel so welcome and have made friends for life at my Slimming World group. The support I get from people of all ages is just amazing, they’re like a second family to me. Every week my Consultant and group helped me make changes, and identify my own triggers and danger zones, then make plans to overcome them. It was all so positive and encouraging – nothing like I’d ever tried before.”

Since Holly won Young Slimmer of the Year 2020, Slimming World has temporarily suspended its groups in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. However, Holly still attends her weekly group virtually and is loving the support she continues to receive from her fellow members each week.

She says: “Although we can’t be together in person, I love seeing my Consultant and fellow members at my virtual group – it really helps to keep me motivated and on track. It’s a difficult time for everyone but as long as we’ve got the support of each other we’ll be OK. With so much going on in the world it’s easy to lose sight of your goals, or to have your routine disrupted, and being in group helps you focus on what you want to achieve.

“I was due to sit my A-level exams next month but sadly that won’t happen now. I’m not going to let that hold me back though – I have big dreams and I can’t wait to fulfil them. Losing 8st has made me feel like I can achieve anything. I proved my doubters wrong and for the first time I feel like I have a bright future ahead of me – that’s an amazing feeling.”


Name: Holly Bolton

Age: 18

Height: 5’5”/1.65m

Starting weight: 18st 5½lbs/257½lbs/116kg

Current weight: 10st/140lbs/64kg

Weight loss: 8st 5½lbs/117½lbs/52kg

Starting dress size: 24

Current dress size: 8

Date joined Slimming World: June 2014

Group: Holly attends the Doddinghurst Slimming World group which is now run virtually by Consultant Karen Barker.

Before menu

Breakfast: White bread with butter and chocolate spread

Lunch: Sausage roll, crisps

Mid-afternoon: A pastry

Dinner: Pizza or burger

Evening: Crisps and sweets

After menu

Breakfast: Overnight oats with frozen berries and sliced banana

Mid-morning: Fruit

Lunch: Large homemade chicken salad or a ham and pepper omelette

Dinner: Hunter’s chicken, Cajun chicken pasta bake or sausage and mash

Evening: A Slimming World Hi-Fi bar or small chocolate bar


[1] (NHS Digital Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet 2019).


For further information please contact Lucy Fisher in the Slimming World press office on 07833 684131 or email lucy.fisher@slimmingworld.co.uk

Notes to editors

  • This story is NOT for syndication to any magazines without the consent of Holly Bolton and the Slimming World press office (details above).
  • Slimming World and Holly Bolton retain copyright of all images attached to this press release.

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. Following the suspension of its weekly groups as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Slimming World has launched a temporary virtual service so its 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.

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