"Making sure the right support is available means that we can help individuals make the most of the positive impact that reaching a healthier weight can have both physically and mentally" Public Health Minister Jo Churchill
A £12 million government funded NHS Digital Weight Management Programme has been launched to help adults and children achieve a healthy weight and boost wellbeing.
The programme will offer free online support via GP and primary care teams’ referrals for adults living with obesity who also have a diagnosis of diabetes or high blood pressure.
Patients will be referred by their GP practice to a ‘Referral Hub’ and offered 1 of 3 levels of intervention. They will then have a choice of provider offering a 12-week, digital weight management service.
In most areas, services will include 12-week sessions, with dietary advice, physical activity guidance and support to help people start and maintain healthier habits.
Evidence suggests weight management services can help people to adopt healthier behaviours, lose weight and improve their general wellbeing.
Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “We want to make the healthier option the easy option, but we still know losing weight can be difficult for people. Making sure the right support is available means that we can help individuals make the most of the positive impact that reaching a healthier weight can have both physically and mentally. The benefit is theirs.”
The Office for Health Promotion, which will launch later this year, will lead the efforts to tackle obesity.
Meanwhile, £30m of new funding will go to councils across England to roll out expanded management services for adults living with obesity.
An additional £4.3m of new funding has been allocated to 11 local authorities to support the expansion of child weight management services in 2021-22.
They will trial new ways to improve access to services for up to 6,000 children identified as living with excess weight or obesity.
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “Many of us have struggled throughout the pandemic and lockdowns to keep the pounds off and maintain a healthy weight.
“It’s vital that everyone can get support to lose weight if they need it, so it’s particularly timely and hugely welcome to see these new services opening.”
“The causes of obesity are linked to the places where we live, work and play, where all too often the food on offer and built environment can make it harder to choose the healthier options.”
The scheme will be part of the government’s wider national obesity strategy.
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, said: “The NHS Long-Term plan committed the NHS to a stronger focus in preventing illness and reducing the serious health concerns that people living with obesity can experience, including the higher risks of more severe outcomes with COVID.”