250k Weight Watchers contract to help tackle obesity epidemic

HEALTH chiefs are paying £250,000 for 4,000 people to go on 12-week Weight Watchers programmes in a bid to tackle the area’s obesity epidemic.

An NHS health profile for Boston shows that 22 per cent of children are obese by the time they leave primary school.

The figure for adults is more than a quarter – 26.8 per cent – and the statistics also show the borough has problems with early deaths due to heart disease and strokes, diabetes and a low number of adults engaged in physical activity.

The number of year six children that are obese has risen by 3.4 per cent since Boston’s 2011 Health Profile.

The long-standing problems have caused NHS Lincolnshire to take out a county-wide contract with Weight Watchers to try to boost the county’s health.

The deal will run to £250,000 if, as aniticipated, 4,000 Lincolnshire adults are referred by their GPs for the 3-month courses.

Teresa Roche , public health consultant for NHS Lincolnshire, said: “In a bid to tackle adult obesity and promote healthier lifestyles, NHS Lincolnshire has recently invested in weight management services that will make it easier for overweight and obese people in Boston (and the rest of Lincolnshire) to get support.

“Weight Watchers was recently awarded the contract to provide a 12 week programme to 4,000 adults across Lincolnshire with a BMI (body mass index) of over 30.

“Acceptance on the programme is through GP referral once the criteria have been met.”

The first patients began to be referred onto the placements on April 1.

Teresa added: “People accessing this support will attend regular meetings at locations and times to suit them which focus on increasing physical activity and improving eating habits.

“The NHS approved programme works with individuals to understand and adopt healthier lifestyle habits and has proved successful in other areas.

“This recent investment is one of the ways that we are working to tackle adult obesity and make healthy lifestyle choices easier.

“We are delighted to be working with Weight Watchers to improve services for people wanting to lose weight and improve their health.”

Boston’s Health Profile shows just 8.3 per cent of over-16s from Boston are physically active, below the national average of 11.2 per cent.

Its levels of obesity and physical activity are the second worst in the county, narrowly better than neighbours South Holland, where 24.5 per cent of primary school leavers are obese.

Boston also has an above-average level of teenage pregnancy – 45.2 under-18s per 1,000 – and 18.6 per cent of borough mothers smoke during pregnancy, above the national average of 13.7 per cent.

The profile does show better-than-average performance when it comes to homelessness, deprivation, child poverty and GCSE results.