Pledge to spend NHS cash on sending obese people in Norwich to Slimming World

NHS money will continue to be spent in Norwich on sending obese people to Slimming World.

NHS money will continue to be spent in Norwich on sending obese people to Slimming World. - Credit: PA

Extra NHS funds are set to be spent on sending obese people in Norwich to weight loss clubs following the success of a two year project.

The GP-led group in charge of health budgets in the city yesterday agreed to continue spending part of their budget on paying overweight residents to attend Slimming World groups.

More than 2,000 people from Norwich with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 have taken part in the pilot project over the last two years, which has seen the NHS funding vouchers for participants to join the weight loss organisation for a 12 week period.

Officials from Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) yesterday agreed to pay for the Slimming World on referral project to continue for the next nine months after being told of the success of the initiative.

More than 60pc of patients who took part in the pilot lost at least 5pc of their body weight and 13pc who completed the 12 week course lost more than 10pc of their body weight, according to analysis from researchers from the University of East Anglia.

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Members of the CCG hailed the scheme, which cost £72,400 a year, but agreed to fund it until April next year whilst promoting a Norwich Health Trainer Service, run by Public Health Norfolk to help overweight people make more lifestyle and physical activity changes.

A survey of almost 500 people that were referred to Slimming World by their GP said that quality of life scores had improved and levels of physical activity had increased.

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Augustine Pereira, a consultant in public health medicine at Norfolk County Council, said: 'A higher than average proportion of patients lost 5pc of their baseline weight. There were other impacts in terms of lifestyle and dietary changes and there were quite a lot of positive benefits from the programme.'

More than half of people in Norwich are classed as overweight with a BMI of 25 or more. A healthy BMI is seen to be between the range of 18.5 to 24.9.

Irene MacDonald, a member of the CCG, said that she would like to see the NHS funded Slimming World scheme continue.

'We know this is a very important issue and it seems a very small amount of money that could save future spending and affect people's lives for the better. People go together and it has helped people at the lower end of deprivation,' she said.

Cath Robinson, added: 'It is a good service and the evaluation is wonderful. It does what it set out to do and have an affect on obesity and it plugs them into something that meets their needs.'

Chris Price, chairman of the CCG, added that the group would make a decision on whether to continue funding the scheme next year.

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