Slimming World fully supports Mr Vaz’s Early Day Motion and agrees that there is no quick fix for the UK’s obesity epidemic. NICE’s proposal does not fully address the deep psychological and emotional issues that are so often linked to morbid obesity and that must be addressed before a person can achieve an effective, sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
Dr Jacquie Lavin,
Slimming WorldHead of Nutrition and Research, said that Mr Vaz’s concern about the link between sugar, obesity and diabetes needs to be better understood by the public. “The issues lie with the sugar added to processed foods, including confectionery, crisps, breakfast cereals and convenience sauces which are often high in fat and calories and not filling and won’t help with weight loss or weight management. In particular, the presence of sugar in fizzy drinks and fruit juice increase the energy density of our diet and lead people to consume more calories without feeling full and satisfied,” said Dr Lavin.
“Conversely, sugars found in whole fresh fruits are wrapped up with healthy vitamins, minerals, fibre and water and are nutritional, low in calories, satiating so are an excellent tool for weight management.”
On the day PHE has published new research showing that 90% of adults with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, Dr Lavin says that the government must pledge to do more to create equality of access for every overweight person to be signposted to an effective evidenced-based weight management service developed on the core principles of healthy eating, physical activity and support to achieve long term behaviour change.
Dr Jacquie Lavin said: “We’d agree with Mr Vaz that surgery does not necessarily bring about change in diet. It’s important for people to realise that choosing surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly, nor is it the only option for people with a lot of weight to lose as evidence shows that, with the right support, diet and lifestyle changes can be extremely effective.
“Weight-loss surgery may serve to heighten people’s feelings of failure and lack of control, as it puts the solution well and truly in someone else’s hands and leaves the individual bereft of the very support they needed to make sustainable changes in the first place. It’s not always the quick-fix people are hoping for.
“In our experience, empowering people to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving their diet and becoming more active, can have a huge impact on raising self-esteem and self-confidence by helping people to feel more in control of their own weight and health. Plus these behaviours can be passed on to the whole family, meaning the next generation grows up with healthy habits too.
“Increasingly we’re welcoming people to our groups who don't want to incur the risks of surgery yet have a lot of weight to lose – in fact, a recent analysis of 1.2 million Slimming World members found that nearly one in three (29.7%) had a starting BMI of 35 and 12.2% had a joining BMI of 40, which would be classed as ‘morbidly obese’.
“Everyone is different and in some cases, perhaps where life is at risk or a person truly believes they have tried every possible method to lose weight, surgery may be the right answer. However many of our members tell us that the idea of having surgery, and perhaps risking their life on the operating table, terrified them and they’re delighted that they have been able to achieve the results they dreamed of without having to face that.”
Dr Lavin added: “We believe that the Government must do more to ensure that people receive clear, consistent advice and guidance about the most effective way to lead healthy lifestyles and manage their weight in the long term.”