community weight management initiative

Hi, I am looking for opinions/thoughts please. I am really interested in obesity and weight management and helping people overcome this for a better lifestyle. I wrote my Msc thesis on obesity and how implementing an initiative into communities for people living in deprived areas could help reduce obesity levels by bringing people together for support, education on healthy eating and exercising together. I would to set this up as a non for profit org through various funding routes etc. my research shows that there is nothing out there in the communities to help people on low income and who perhaps have no confidence to along to classes or ate to embarrassed about their weight to out alone. My initiative would work with adults, families and also look at early weaning advice. I am hoping that you lovely people will be able to give your thoughts and opinions on this. Thanks in advance, Elaine.

14 Replies

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  • Hi Elaine. Just read your post and think your ideas are great. I think that education on healthy eating is crucial. Teaching people about portion control, how to cook a balanced meal, calorie control, etc is vital to try to reduce obesity levels for future generations. Best of luck with your plan :)

  • Portion control is very important and also teaching people how to cook healthy meals from scratch and show them that they are better for you as well as cheaper than ready meals etc

    Good luck on your plan

  • Elaine

    It's a sound idea it just needs the right structure so it actually supports people to get physically active and change lifestyles , individually and as a group. The structure has to take account of where people are at and deal with issues like social isolation and lack of confidence /self esteem as well as physical issues so that's a lot of support but if there's a way in there's a way out and I'd be interested to know how you get on as the lack of this type of provision concerns me too.

  • Very well said

  • Thank you. Absolutely, the support side will look at social isolation and getting them out and socialising as well as building on their confidence. I think if there was a group specifically for people all affected by this then they might feel less self conscious, there would be no stigma etc. They would support and motivate each other. I would also like to implement a volunteer mentor, someone who would be there for them 1 or 2 times a week as well as the groups. I am working on a business plan and with a social initiative group so hopefully I can get somewhere with it. So far everyone I have spoken to thinks its a good idea, but like you say it about getting the structure correct as well as backing and funding! fingers crossed.

  • Hi Elaine,

    I would like to suggest that you think about teaching people to shop as well, especially as you're looking to work with people on low incomes. You need to show them how they can cook and eat healthy foods within what money they have available. It can be very easy to tell someone to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, but it's much harder in practice when unhealthy but filling food is cheap and easy.

    I think it's a very interesting idea and I wish you the best of luck. I look forward to seeing how it turns out. :)

  • I love your ideas, Elaine. When I look back to when I was first starting, I already knew only too well that I should eat less, eat healthier food and exercise. I had spent the biggest part of my life studying food and its consequences. Although it plays a part, I don't think that lack of education is necessarily the biggest factor in obesity; rather it is the result of having become obese, you can feel pretty darned awful and the go to medicine is to eat more; more weight goes on and the downward spiral continues. Breaking that cycle is actually very difficult indeed and isn't helped by the general attitude in our society that if you are not totally without visible fat on your body then you are somehow a failure in life.

    Being obese affects how you feel about yourself and I certainly felt pretty negative about myself a few months ago. I have always shied away from group meets as I found the set up of being weighed in a public setting, and others in the group knowing how you are progressing (or not progressing), to be quite over-competitive and threatening. I feel the first step is to feel better about yourself, for whatever reason, and boosting confidence is a major factor in success; I find online support is just right for me.

    Working on the great art of going to social occasions without over-eating is a fantastic skill that is often overlooked and also there is no shying away from the fact that some foods are a lot better for us than others and those should be embraced even if it takes a bit of re-training. I also think that maintaining after a weight loss is somehow just brushed under the carpet and yet very few people successfully maintain in the long term. I would have thought that becoming a mentor would be a big motivator to stay on the straight and narrow and definitely a win win situation.

    I have spoken to many friends who have a problem with their weight and a big obstacle for them is finding an exercise that they are brave enough to try out, trying out enough to find an exercise that they enjoy, can find time for, and feel motivated to keep up in the long term. An exercise buddy to start people off may be a big plus for many who wouldn't dream of walking into a gym or swimming pool alone, or who need a little confidence boost to start regular walks.

    The very best of luck to you and I love the idea that it will be on a not for profit basis x

  • If you are looking to work in deprived area you might think about helping to set up a food cooperative. I was involved with one years ago in Detroit. We only bought fruit/veggie/pulses in bulk once a week then divvied the lot up between the families - good, cheap healthy food that everyone helped bring to the table at a much reduced cost.

  • I think this is a major factor 😊 It is a very sad state of affairs but so many people are unable to cook (or shop for) basic healthy meals 😊 I agree with kalahuchi that with self esteem issues public weighing could put people off, but cookery classes might tempt people, and then suggest an added weigh-in if desired 😊

    I was lucky to attend local health authority weight loss group, but of the 12 places offered only 9 turned up and only 7 of us completed the 8 weeks 😢 Very sad.

    Ps this forum was on the list of suggested resources 😊

  • Yes sounds s great idea, just like infinity set up in Brighton, many moons ago, and now a famous health food shop.

    I look at bulk stuff and think I've no one to share it with, lots will think the same, luckily it doesn't matter to me in cost terms

  • Hi I was living in east london (a 'deprived community') when I started this journey and was initially part of 'myweigh' which was a Tower Hamlets NHS initiative. The weigh in and the meetings/ teaching were okay, but for me the best part was finding out I could get free access to circuit training classes. Then the gamechanger was finding couch to 5k and the corresponding community on healthunlocked, followed shortly afterwards by finding this weight loss community and following the 12 week NHS weight loss plan within this community. Everything I did was provided/ endorsed by the NHS, so for me it wasn't a matter of needing it to be provided, as it already all existed. What I think people need is information about how to access this all, via their GP/ supermarket/ local newspaper, places where they look for information about health. A lot of people on here are surprised our GPs don't refer us straight to this site, for example.

  • Which would of course make sense, the likes of Jamie Oliver have publicly tried to teach folk, how to cook, I'm sure there are on a lesser profile doing the same too

  • I think it’s a great idea, Elaine, particularly since I don’t believe there is sufficient education surrounding obesity, with focus placed upon treating the diseases (symptoms) that have become associated with its rising status as a 21st Century epidemic, rather than focusing upon obesity (cause) itself.

    You simply need to look at how few universities offer degree courses in either dietetics or human nutrition, for example, to appreciate that past and present Governments haven’t taken the issue seriously enough over the years, offering funding to universities in the wrong areas for the best part of a decade.

    Furthermore, those universities that do offer the respective courses do so on a full-time basis, making it near impossible for those with full-time jobs and mortgages to switch careers, despite their passion and level of interest held.

    My gripe aside, I wholeheartedly agree that there simply aren’t enough initiatives available, not just in deprived areas but also among middle-income and more affluent communities, hence the reason people in all levels of society turn to forums for advice on how best to manage their weight and associated conditions.

    Consequently, it’s little surprise to hear that the results of your research led you towards the conclusion that it did.

    While there are those who will argue that both Weight Watchers and Slimming World exist to help people achieve their weight loss ambitions (neither of which are non-profit organisations), do they really go far enough in terms of offering the kind of education and guidance that’s needed over the importance of maintaining the correct energy balance throughout the journey, for example, let alone explaining how it ought to be achieved?

    Additionally, the implementation of points, red and green days, etc and the stress that comes with calculating such things, often leads to a sense frustration and ultimately failure, which isn’t the fault of the participant at all.

    Granted, there are those who do attain their goals through the above organisations, with some managing to maintain goal weight, but the majority find themselves seeking solace in forums after either re-gaining the weight lost or simply giving up part way through, due to the ambiguity of the respective programmes.

    Equally, a visit to the doctor may end with people being told that weight needs to be lost, to help reduce the symptoms of their condition, yet they’re rarely told how to do it, largely due to the fact that doctors lack the ability to refer patients to community run organisations who can, since very few exist. Again, I do appreciate that this may vary between Trusts throughout the country.

    To demonstrate, I recently accompanied my wife, who suffers from PCOS, to an appointment with a fertility specialist.

    I won’t go into the finer details but biologically, the scan results showed that everything was largely fine, with the specialist explaining that she simply needed to lose weight, in order to encourage the frequency of cycles and/or to be considered for IVF treatment, using an antiquated method of measuring suitability (the BMI scale).

    Throughout the consultation (which was at least 30 minutes), no explanation was offered as to how best she achieved weight loss, taking into consideration that insulin resistance is the greatest barrier to her level of success.

    Thankfully for my wife, she’s married to someone who understands how the consumption of sugar in those suffering from PCOS stimulates the production of androgen (Testosterone), which in turn increases the secretion of insulin.

    The specialist could have explained that the reduction of simple/refined carbohydrate would help to reduce the symptoms associated with PCOS, in addition to assisting her level and rate of weight loss, but she offered nothing.

    As such, it’s little wonder that individuals leave doctors’ surgeries and specialist appointments no wiser as to how they achieve what has been asked of them.

    Equally, until there’s a wholesale shift in attitude to the management of weight, from those responsible for service(s) provided through the NHS (I’m talking to you, Jeremy), nothing will improve, continuing to descend down the path upon which it’s headed (bankruptcy and privatisation).

    Rather than simply being told to lose weight, by offering education as to what calories actually mean (units of energy) and how the ratio of their consumption between the food groups benefits and hinders weight loss, due to their respective effect(s) upon the body, perhaps people would be far better placed when making decisions over nutritional choices.

    Equally, the same could be said about the importance of regular exercise.

    Rather than simply stating that it burns calories and improves fitness, both of which do help to reduce weight, explanations should be offered (NHS) as to why it’s so important, particularly since regular exercise encourages the increased uptake of glucose and fat, depleting glycogen within the muscles, going on to explain how regularly depleting glycogen reserves benefits levels of insulin sensitivity in both the shorter and longer term.

    Again, although my reply may have become rather animated, this is by no means a reflection upon what you’ve suggested, Elaine, since I truly do consider your idea to be fantastic and I certainly wish you the very best in making your dream a reality.

  • In reply to me nice guy and others here, dr Peter D'adamo, the blood type guy has written lots since 1997, about diets, blood types and their effects.

    His work has always been intense and tough love, a journey lots take for medical reasons too ( always worth watching I add his videos)

    We do need more info about obesity and how to get over it, of course in basic terms we learn and relate to foods from weaning onwards.

    Hence our often emotional attachments, the ads for junk food seem more powerful than cheap home cooked food, looking more tempting too.

    Supermarkets and shops don't often encourage the healthier recipes, more often than not, it's the waitrose classes that do tho.............recipes full if sugar and fat branded luxury.

    We need to get folk , inspired to do the right stuff in the right way

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