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NHS weight management team urge people to seek support

Almost half of people have gained weight during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to a recent survey.

This comes as no surprise to the weight management team at York Hospital who have been pioneering a new approach to weight loss for the past year which has helped over 80 percent of their patients lose weight. They also report an increase in motivation and confidence.

The team are keen to reassure people who have gained weight over lockdown that, with the right support, everyone can make changes to their lifestyle and lose weight.

David Locker, lead for the programme, explained: “The York Adult Tier 3 weight management programme is designed to help people change their lifestyle by making positive changes that will improve their health.

“It works on several levels to help people manage their weight with a combination of advice and support from a consultant, nurse, physiotherapist, counsellor and dietitian.

“Sarah Trevillion, our specialist dietitian, helps people focus on their eating habits by making one or two specific changes that are realistic and achievable. This could be as simple as swapping from a sugary drink to a sugar free version, or reducing the frequency of eating high calorie snacks.

“Advice from specialist weight management counsellor, Julie Artley, encourages people to do more of what they enjoy and focus on what they can control. It’d important that patients keep talking to us about any difficulties they might be having. We can help them to set regular and achievable goals and to be kind to themselves if they have a bad day or week. Patients are also encouraged to try and reduce the amount of time they spend sitting. Studies have linked long periods of inactivity to weight gain, a slower metabolism and some cancers.”

Dr Jagannath Gopalappa, lead clinician for the programme, added: “With obesity as one of the risk factors associated with poor outcomes for people with Covid-19, gaining even more weight is a huge cause for concern for people who may have already been struggling with their weight before lockdown.

“We understand the many challenges that Covid-19 has brought to our everyday lives and behaviours. Daily routines have completely changed and as a result so have many people’s diets and activity levels. In some households this has had a drastic effect on people’s mental and physical health. The good news is we can help people regain control of their weight and increase their chances of staying healthy even in a pandemic.”

Anyone concerned about their health and weight should speak to their GP to find out whether they are eligible for the York Adult tier 3 weight management programme. Visit for further information and advice about health and wellbeing in York.

Case study

Joanne* (not her real name) was enrolled into the Tier3 programme at the end of April and admits that she didn’t know what to expect: “I thought I was visiting a dietitian for help to lose weight after so many slimming clubs failed me.  I’d lose weight and I’d gain it back with interest, and paid a weekly fee for the privilege, similar to many other people. 

“This group isn’t like a slimming group, this group cares about you and your welfare and wants you to succeed. I am planning for the future so I don’t feel I have to rush – it’s not a quick fix and I expect it to take two years to reach my goals. It’s about changing my life forever.

“I don’t want to be a super slim model, I still want plumpness about my figure, but I want to be healthy, I want lower blood pressure, I want to lower the risk of all the harmfulness that life and age throw at me.”

What has made the programme different for Joanne is that it has changed her whole approach to eating: “As silly as it sounds, I now know when I’m full. Previously, I could eat and eat and didn’t really feel satisfied that I’d eaten enough. With mindful eating and portion control I know that the meal I am eating is enough to fuel my body. Eating extra food might taste nice but it’s not needed - and why eat more calories that I need?

“I eat balanced meals daily and I’m never hungry. I plan - and this is a massive thing - I plan my meals and I have a list on my fridge as my reminder. This makes shopping far easier, and cheaper, too. I try new foods, I never realised how boring my eating was until now, and I am mindful and appreciate what I am eating.

“I still eat chocolate, trifles and cheesecake - but not the whole packet!  Switching to small individual portions instead of family size still gives me the taste I enjoy.”

The programme focusses on making small changes which all add up to a new and healthier lifestyle along the way. After being given support by physiotherapist Roisin Nolan in how to exercise safely, Joanne has even enrolled in a gym.

Joanne continued: “If you’d have mentioned a gym to me twelve weeks ago, I would have laughed at you, but attending the weekly circuits with Roisin has been great and I am now an enrolled member at a gym where I can keep up my good work.  I’ve always said that ‘a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing’. I feel I am a new person, and I like who I am becoming.

“So I would encourage anyone trying to lose weight to please keep going, don’t give up and if you find you’ve diverted your journey route along the way, stop and get redirected.  There’s no shame in asking for help either, we are not perfect and we don’t know all the rules in life, so ask and don’t be afraid to ask.”

Patient feedback

“I particularly enjoyed leaning my limits and the friendly attitude and relaxed atmosphere”

“Not all exercise has to include burpees or squats”

“I found it really interesting and I have set goals for life being here”

“Small changes are for life and change habits of a lifetime”

“Be positive around food choices and don’t let a bad day ruin it”

“The best part about being in a group is that you don’t have to do everything alone”

Weight management team

24 August 2020

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