North Yorkshire kick starts its Better Health

This story was published 6 August 2020

North Yorkshire’s Adult Weight Management Service is being seen as a vital route for residents to improve their health and lifestyle after Public Health England launched the national Better Health campaign.

Jo Hardiman

In North Yorkshire, 61.3 per cent of adults in 2017/18 were overweight or obese, which is on par with the UK average. People living with obesity are twice as likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19.

Therefore, for many, the past few months have been a wake-up call and people are recognising that it is time to get back on track after gaining weight over a long period of time.

The North Yorkshire service, which is fundamental to the North Yorkshire Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy, is free to eligible adults for up to 24 weeks and works to develop people’s self-esteem, confidence and motivation while giving practical advice and activity sessions to achieve 5 per cent weight loss at 12 weeks and sustain it at 24 weeks.

The service provides a tailored approach for each person who is referred. Throughout lockdown the service continued supporting clients but was unable to take on new people. However, most services are now once again accepting GP referrals and it is hoped that over the coming months there will be an increased offer.

The service is commissioned across North Yorkshire by the County Council and delivered by a different provider in each district.

Scarborough and Ryedale NHS Weight Management Service client Caroline Shepherdson has really enjoyed the remote service. She said: “The virtual group has kept me focused. I have been able to pick up valuable information and tips from my weekly catch-ups.”

Caroline continued: “I feel that we have received a personal service. You get a more focused experience and learn about individuals. I don’t feel that the power or focus has been lost because the meeting is online.”

Selby resident James Stone got involved with the programme after becoming a father for the first time and being fed up with feeling unhealthy. In Selby, the programme is called Move it to Lose it and is delivered by Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles at Selby Leisure Centre.

James said: “I have enjoyed taking control of my diet now that I understand more. It is nice being able to eat treats but in a controlled way that doesn’t feel too restricted. I started swimming much more when the leisure centre was open and have since been increasing my cycling during lockdown.

“I have managed to lose 22kg so far and I am now on the 12-week maintenance programme after achieving the target weight loss. I feel so much better for it and after struggling over the past six years to maintain my weight I am now glad to be able to control my diet.

“It’s an excellent programme and I have made new friendships and now support newcomers in feeling safe and welcome over Zoom calls and have recommended it to loads of people.”

Jo Hardiman, from Skipton, is full of praise for the programme and advisors Hannah Storey and Mark Hampton. In Craven, the service is called Healthy Lifestyles Weight Management Programme and is delivered by Craven District Council.

“I’m absolutely over the moon with the way the programme has worked for me,” said Jo. “I’ve tried to lose weight several times, but this is the only thing that’s worked for me. I’ve really enjoyed becoming much more active.

“Hannah has been brilliant – she’s so encouraging and I love the circuits that she showed us, which I’m now doing daily. She’s also been sending new ideas on a regular basis on our WhatsApp group, so we all still feel very supported.

“Whilst it was obviously preferable to be able to have our group meetings together, I’ve been able to continue the programme and feel I’m still making good progress. Altogether, I still feel very supported and I’m really appreciative of still having the support available in such strange times.”

Hannah said: “It’s been a pleasure having Jo on the course, she has been motivated right from the start. During the group sessions, Jo was an encouraging member of the group, she engaged and shared ideas and always enjoyed the exercise. As our sessions moved to a remote service, Jo continued to be really positive, hitting her initial target at 12 weeks and continuing to lose weight through the maintenance stage.”

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, said: “Weight gain has been identified as a factor which can cause people to be hospitalised with Covid-19 as well as making it harder to fight against diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The Adult Weight Management service offers a supportive environment with a range of tools so people are making informed change to their lifestyle. We really hope more people will access it to kick start their better health.”

Find more information on the Adult Weight Management Service.