Weight Watchers and Slimming World ‘will be prescribed on NHS’ in Boris’s war on obesity

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DOCTORS will be able to refer overweight patients to Weight Watchers and Slimming World to help tackle the obesity crisis.

Boris Johnson is urging Brits to lose weight and get fit to take pressure of the NHS ahead of a potential second Covid wave this winter.

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Today he announced the Government would help people to shed the pounds as part of its new “Better Health” campaign.

The new programme offers health tips and advice, as well as discounts and incentives for people to sign up to weight loss management services.

It includes a free NHS weight loss plan – a 12 week programme to help people manage their weight loss journey.

The service also points patients to other ways to lose weight, such as Weight Watchers, Slimming World and GetSlim.

Under the new programme the government is set to offer Brits one month free with a three month plan.

Most people will lose around 1/2lbs a week on the plan but results may vary.

The WW programme is clinically-proven to support weight loss and improvement in blood sugar control in those diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

As well as helping members lose weight, WW helps people change their habits to make healthy eating and physical activity a part of their daily lives.

Previously doctors had been able to refer patients who needed to lose weight to the Weight Watchers (WW) scheme if they are at risk of type 2 diabetes.

People who had been referred received nine months at a subsidised rate.

The new Better Health scheme means that this option is open to all.

Public Health England (PHE) has also teamed up with Slimming World, with a deal that offers new members can get £20 off with a three-month membership.

The website states: “Slimming World is working in partnership with Public Health England to seize the opportunity for a national reset moment, kickstarting a commitment to a healthier way of life following Covid-19 lockdown.”

The offer is valid from today until August 29.

Another programme also on offer under the government’s new scheme is GetSlim.

If you can get your weight down a bit then, and protect your health then you’ll also be protecting the NHS

This is the cheapest offering of all the plans and new members can sign up from just 86p a week.

GetSlim is an app which includes healthy recipes and support for people starting out on their weight loss journey.

It comes after various studies have flagged obesity as one of the major risk factors for severe Covid-19 and death from the disease.

Mr Johnson has suggested the severe symptoms he endured were partly down to his weight.

The PM weighed 17 stone 7lbs when he was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London with the virus in April and is understood to have lost at least a stone since recovering.

This morning he said: “When I went into ICU, when I was really ill, I was way overweight.

“I’m only about 5 foot 10, and you know, at the outside, and you know I was too fat.”

He said: “There are amazing things you get on your phones these days, amazing apps, fantastic trainers that you can watch on Youtube.

“If you can get your weight down a bit then, and protect your health then you’ll also be protecting the NHS.

“What we are doing now with our Better Health Strategy is just trying to help people a little bit to bring their weight down.”

Meanwhile health secretary Matt Hancock said that if every Brits lost 5lbs then it could save the NHS £100 billion.

Mr Hancock has today declared coronavirus a “deadly wake-up call” for Britain to finally deal with the obesity epidemic.

Mr Hancock explained being overweight put enormous pressure on the NHS, and getting fitter could boost the nation’s health and finances.

Papers published by NHS England in May state that there were 876,000 hospital admissions with obesity as a factor over the last year.

It also found that 67 per cent of men were overweight or obese along with 60 per cent of women.

Shockingly the statistics also showed that 20 per cent of year 6 children are classed as obese.

As well as this obesity has also been flagged as one of the main risk factors for Covid-19.

Researchers previously found that people who are obese have a 37 per cent higher risk of dying.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director at PHE said excess weight can reduce our strength to fight off serious diseases.

He added: “Covid-19 has given us a wake-up call to get our health back on track. We know how hard it can be to lose weight and keep it off – our Better Health campaign aims to make it easier for everyone to introduce changes that will help them maintain a healthy weight.

“It’s never too late, or too early, to make changes that will have a lasting impact on your health.”  

Elsewhere the chief executive of Diabetes UK, Chris Askew said the coronavirus pandemic had “brought into sharp focus the vast human cost we pay as a result of our unhealthy environment”.

He welcomed the government’s strategy and said we needed to “stop putting profit before health”.

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