North Yorkshire’s adult weight management service has continued to support residents to achieve their weight loss goals throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
When restrictions were imposed last March, face-to-face sessions came to an abrupt end. However, the service quickly adapted to offer online and virtual support, which is continuing to change the lives of many.
Mother-of-one Katy Wood, 38, found it hard to leave the house due to insecurities about her weight. She was spending more and more time alone and her mental health was suffering.
“I have struggled with my mental health for a long time but I began to feel like I had no motivation to do anything,” said Katy. “I didn’t like to go out because I felt self-conscious so I would try to avoid people as much as possible.”
Katy has always had a difficult relationship with food so was determined to lose weight healthily and in a way that could be maintained.
“It wasn't all about sharing how much weight we'd lost as we covered a range of topics related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I have a different mind-set in that losing weight doesn’t feel like I’m punishing myself,” said Katy, who started the programme six months ago.
Losing weight helped to give Katy the confidence to sign-up as a vaccinator with the NHS to do her bit in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m so proud of myself that I signed up,” said Katy. “It has been a challenge as you see hundreds of people all day. I wanted to do my bit to help the community and I feel so much better for it. The programme has definitely given me the confidence to put myself out there again.”
Katy is now also doing a course in child and adolescent health and is finding enjoyment in hobbies and interests.
The adult weight management service is a free 24-week programme designed to improve physical and mental health by helping you eat well and get moving. There are six adult weight management service providers covering the county and the teams all provide online, telephone and face-to-face support.
The programme is available to over-18s with a BMI of 30 or over, or anyone with a BMI of 25 or above who is also in a black or minority ethnic group, or has conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or hypertension.
After 25 years of unsuccessful attempts at losing weight, Ash Arnett took his doctor’s advice and signed up to the programme. The 49-year-old father-of-three was shocked into action by a family picture drawn by one of his young daughters.
He said: “When they were drawing a picture of me, daddy was a circle with a head on and my wife was small and slim. When I asked why daddy was a circle they said ‘because you have a big tummy’. Children show you a reality you don’t necessarily want to see.”
Reflecting on his own weight loss journey and life with his family, Ash added: “For parents especially, it’s understanding the health benefits. Do you find yourself feeling tired? Do you want to be there for your children?
“I feel a lot happier now. We’re going on a family holiday to Cornwall in July. I’m confident by that point I’ll be closer to where I want to be with my health than I have in 25 years. I won’t be the fat dad who can’t go on rides with the kids and join in.”
Louise Wallace, North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “Despite the challenges and restrictions associated with Covid-19, we are extremely proud that the North Yorkshire adult weight management service, funded from our Public Health Grant, has continued to support people who need help and specialist advice to improve their health and wellbeing.
“Providers in each district have worked tirelessly to review and adapt the service offered to ensure it is safe by following national government guidance. We’re delighted by how all providers have been able to meet the needs of everyone requiring support with their weight loss journey through these difficult times.”
County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, added: “The adult weight management service continues to provide people with tailored, specialist advice with the highest possible flexibility according to individual circumstances and needs.
“The response from people using the service has been extremely positive and it is clear to see that it is placed with such high regard at a time when all of our routines and motivation have been affected in some way.”