Slimming World urges Professor Dame Carol Black to consider causes of obesity in Government review
Carolyn Pallister, Public Health Manager at Slimming World responds to the review by Professor Dame Carol Black.
Not enough is currently being done by the Government to help people suffering from obesity and we welcome this review by Professor Dame Carol Black.
However, alarmist headlines that overweight people face losing their benefits if they do not seek treatment will only serve to make the problem worse. Obesity is a complex and multi-layered issue that impacts on both physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing and we know that there is no silver bullet. The only certainty is that discrimination and blame will ensure that those who struggle with their weight will continue to experience a cycle of despair and loneliness.
Slimming World was started 46 years ago from a conviction that the burden carried by overweight people is two-fold. There is the burden of excess weight itself and there is an often far greater burden: that of shame, self-criticism and poor self-esteem. Last year we welcomed NICE’s acknowledgment of the need for compassion in long term weight loss success as it is something we’ve been lobbying for, and advocating, for many years.
Dame Carol Black’s review must take into account the psychological as well as physiological aspects of solutions to obesity. In our experience, supporting people to make sustainable lifestyle changes must include ongoing understanding, care and motivation. Our experience shows that being part of a community is hugely important. As well as support, the focus must be on helping people to adopt new habits by learning how to shop, cook and eat more healthily using normal, everyday foods and to move more by doing regular activity that fits with their daily routine and physical ability. Empowering people to develop this new ‘lifestyle groove’ can have an enormous impact on raising self-esteem and self-confidence by helping people to feel more in control of their own weight and health. These new behaviours influence the next generation too as they are passed on to the whole family.
The Prime Minister has pledged that ‘support and treatment’ will be available to everyone who needs it and we urge him to consult the experts in weight management. For nearly 15 years Slimming World has been working in partnership with local health authorities and employers to deliver a referral programme which is well evaluated and has been shown to be cost effective. We believe that access to evidence based ‘slimming on referral’ programmes should be an available choice to all in every community.
Slimming World has a £2 million research and development programme that looks at the causes, effects and solutions to obesity and long term sustainable weight management. Our programme is evidence-based with a comprehensive research portfolio to show effectiveness in both behaviour change and cost-effectiveness.
Policy-makers cannot afford to ignore Slimming World as a key stakeholder in helping to provide solutions not only in weight management but in helping to prevent obesity too.