A team that has helped and encouraged countless people to transform their lives will be out in force next week as part of a campaign designed to reinforce those New Year’s resolutions.
Swindon’s Healthy Weight Awareness Week runs from Monday, 13 January until Saturday, 18 January and, to coincide with the campaign, Swindon Borough Council’s Health Improvement team will be passing on advice about how people can make simple lifestyle changes to manage their weight.
The team already runs a series of initiatives such as Dietbusters and the MEND programme, which are designed to help people lead healthier lives.
The week links to National Obesity Awareness Week (NOAW) and the ‘Let’s Turn Obesity Around’ campaign to highlight the problem of obesity. According to the National Obesity Forum, 50% of the UK population could be obese by 2050 at a cost of £50 billion a year.
The Health Improvement Team will be at the following locations next week:
Monday, 13 January – Penhill Library/community café in Penhill Drive, Penhill on Monday between 10am and 1pm.
Thursday, 16 January – Pinetrees Community Centre, The Circle, Pinehurst, between 11.30am and 2pm.
Saturday, 18 January – Asda Walmart (just inside the entrance) Orbital Retail Park, between 11am and 3pm.
The events will also be an opportunity for people to find out more about local lifestyle courses and weight management programmes for all ages, as well as a chance to speak with a dietician for advice on healthy eating.
As part of this local week of awareness, people will be encouraged to support and sign up to the January Change4life Smart Swaps campaign to make one or more easy diet swaps every day for a month to save a surprising amount of saturated fat, sugar and calories from their diet.
In return for signing up to the national initiative, people will receive a free Smart Swaps pack full of healthier swap and meal ideas, money-off vouchers, fridge magnets, and the option to sign-up for additional e-mail and text support.
There will also be healthy food tasting and stalls at the events with information on gentle, low-cost activities like walking, cycling and swimming to help get people more active.
For those that want to get moving on the day, there will be the option of pedalling a fruit smoothie on a bike or stepping out with a short demonstration Health Walk, and everyone who attends will be invited to enter a prize draw to win a healthy food hamper.
The council’s health ambassadors will also be on hand to signpost people to other health-related services, such as the stop smoking service.
Cllr Brian Mattock, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “We know that obesity is as much of a problem in Swindon as it is in other parts of the country, with an estimated one in four adults being obese.
“Excess weight increases a person’s chance of developing a number of health problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and low self-esteem.
“There is no quick fix. However, people who successfully lose weight and keep it off have a number of things in common – they make changes to improve their diet and increase activity that they can keep up, rather than going on short term diets.
“I would recommend that people sign up to the Change4Life Smart Swaps campaign or go along to the events to find out more about ways to get started.”
Nicola Scotford, 37, of Pinehurst, signed up to the Council’s Dietbusters programme in September 2012 and has since lost six stone.
The 12-week course consists of 90-minute sessions which are split evenly between talks about healthy eating and fun exercises.
“I would definitely recommend Dietbusters to other people who want to change their lifestyle,” said Nicola. “The course helps you to learn about what food to eat and how to check food labels, but it was also a great way to meet new people with similar goals and we all inspire and encourage each other.
“After the 12 weeks I had the motivation to carry on the good work and I’ve now lost six stone with a further two stone to lose.”
Eleven-year-old Edan Shannon, joined the Council’s MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it!) programme last September after a serious foot injury left him unable to take part in physical activities.
MEND is a free course which helps children aged five to 16 and their families manage their weight better and lead healthier lives by teaching them how to eat a balanced diet and how to become more active. Each two-hour session includes one-hour of fun games for the children and a one-hour healthy lifestyle workshop for the whole family.
Edan’s dad Mark said MEND had made a big difference to his son’s life. “Edan has done brilliantly well since he started the course,” explained Mark. “It has really helped with his confidence and he has been working in the gym and taking part in various activities such as spinning.
“The programme has also encouraged him to eat healthier and he is even saying ‘no’ when he’s offered a packet of crisps.”
For more information about the Healthy Weight Awareness Week or any of the programmes offered by Swindon’s Health Improvement Team, call 01793 465413 or go to: www.leisureinswindon.co.uk
To find out how you can sign up to the C4L Smart Swaps campaign, go online and search for ‘Change4Life’.
See below for details of free guided walking groups for all ages and abilities.