A Birmingham NHS weight loss programme - 'Lighten Up' – has helped patients lose a total of 5 tonnes in weight in the last year. That's equivalent to the weight of 72 healthy weighted people. The good news is that this successful programme is now available FREE across the whole of Birmingham.
Lighten Up is an evidence based weight loss programme commissioned by Birmingham Public Health which offers help, assistance and support for 12 weeks, from commercial and NHS providers, followed by telephone weight maintenance support for up to 12 months. Those interested can simply ask their GP to refer them on, or sign up themselves.
Sarah Mills, Nutrition Commissioning Manager explained how the scheme works in principle: “Lighten Up is available through GP referral and self referral for adults with a BMI over 30, and in some cases lower than 30. Initial contact is provided by Gateway Family Services, who will confirm the patient is eligible for the service and explain what is available locally. Anyone interested can ask their GP to refer them, or call the free phone number 0800 5999880. Not only will they have the support to lose weight, but as it's a free service each participant saves approximately £70 in doing so.”
Lighten Up was initially established as an adult weight management programme in South Birmingham and a rigorous evaluation by Birmingham University , which was published in the British Medical Journal, showed clinically significant amounts of weight loss which are sustained at one year.
Linda Hindle, Consultant Dietician said “We are delighted to be able to extend this successful service across the City. It has been extremely well received by users and has gained national recognition as an effective programme to achieve weight loss.”
One Lighten Up client said: “The vouchers gave me the incentive to join a slimming club. The diet has suited my work and lifestyle plus I have started walking when possible instead of using my car. I have recently had my 3 monthly check at the doctor. My weight, blood pressure, blood sugar levels etc have all reduced.”
Cllr Steve Bedser, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, showed his support for the scheme: “Obesity is a priority health issue for Birmingham, this programme will provide support for more than 3500 residents to significantly improve their health. It is evidence based and provides excellent value for money.”
Simon was referred to Lighten Up to give him the kick start he needed with his weight loss. So Simon started working with Lighten Up. The call centre helped him decide which weight loss provider would be the best fit for him and helped find a class that met close to where he lived. They provided him with all the details he needed and answered a couple of questions he had about what to expect when he got there.
Simon did brilliantly, losing a stone and a half of weight within three months. Once his free sessions through Lighten Up were used up he decided to carry on attending as he was finding the help made such a difference. However, he says he would never have started had those first 12 weeks not been free:
“Making such a lot of progress in those first few weeks gave me the will to carry on. I'd come such a long way, why stop now?”
He says it gave him the opportunity to try something he'd been thinking about for a long time and the call centre staff helped him feel more comfortable about attending the class. At first he was put off at the thought of possibly being the only man. He soon found on attending that he shouldn't have worried.
Not only did Simon benefit but so did his family. He went home with all his healthy eating advice which rubbed off on his wife and his son. They've all lost weight and are now far more aware of what they eat.
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