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WEIGHT-LOSS SECRETS

Doctors’ and nurses’

Losing weight isn’t any easier just because your career is based on helping others achieve better health. Jo Waters meets the healthcare professionals who have fought their own fat demons – and won

WITH BRITONS OFFICIALLY THE FATTEST IN EUROPE – 27% of the population are classified as obese – and obesity a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer, the NHS is under immense pressure to reduce the crisis.

Yet the reality is that many healthcare professionals are facing the same weight challenges themselves. A 2017 survey found that one in four nurses and 33% of care workers are obese.

The problem isn’t new. In 2014, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said it needed to be tackled after The Sun newspaper reported that around 700,000 of the NHS’s 1.2 million staff were overweight or obese. A situation not helped by stress, irregular shift work patterns, unhealthy hospital canteen food and vending machines.

Setting an example

NHS England estimates the cost of staff absence due to ill health to be £2.4 billion a year, or around £1 in every £40 of the total NHS budget. Over the past two years, NHS England has provided £450 million to incentivise healthy workplace initiatives that address junk-food culture by ensuring healthy food options are available for staff and visitors, including those working nights.

‘As the largest employer in Europe, the NHS needs to practise what it preaches by offering better support for the health and wellbeing of staff,’ says Simon. ‘A good place to start is to tackle the sources of staff sickness, while doing our bit to end the nation’s obesity epidemic by ditching junk food and sugary drinks in favour of tasty, healthy and affordable alternatives.’

The listening approach

‘There seems to be a real push in the NHS to help staff become healthier and lose excess weight,’ says clinical hypnotherapist and weight-loss expert Sandra Roycroft-Davis. She has been working with two NHS trusts to get their workforce fitter, slimmer and healthier.

Sandra has devised a behavioural change programme for staff in the form of a downloadable app called Slimpod. The programme has been used by 130 healthcare employees in Tameside for a year. They downloaded three programmes available as apps, which provide nine-minute recordings of health and lifestyle advice. Now Fairfield Hospital in Bury, Lancashire, has signed up after its own successful pilot scheme.

‘All they have to do is listen,’ says Sandra. ‘It works by changing their unconscious decision-making so that gradually they’ll only notice healthy food options and want to eat healthily and be more active. Of the 130 people who took part, 95% noticed that they lost interest in snacking after listening to the programme.’

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About Healthy Food Guide

We help you identify when your body's trying to tell you something, and give diet advice for protecting your eyesight in future years. Troubled by teens? We’ve got the ultimate survival guide for parents and teenagers, including focused nutrition info. We also take inspiration from the healthcare professionals battling their personal weight demons – and winning. And don’t miss the winning line-up of our Best of Health Awards to help you shop healthily into the new season...