New guidelines produced by NICE this week confirmed something that we were already aware of here at Gateway: that “realistic weight loss goals are better than quick fixes”.
The new guidelines suggest that GPs should signpost overweight people to slimming classes, which can support people to make lifelong changes rather than yo-yo dieting, and that patients should aim for a 3% weight loss, initially.
Of course, we agree with this advice. Slimming classes are proven to work and of course we know that longer term lifestyle changes are more achievable if someone goes for smaller targets over a longer period of time.
In fact, via our Lighten Up and Health Trainer services, Gateway is already offering what NICE recommends – and more.
Tackling the barriers
When a GP refers someone to a slimming class, there are two major barriers that prevent people from taking the next step: cost and confidence.
This is where Gateway’s Lighten Up service comes in. It provides an important bridge by addressing these issues directly.
We are told by clients over and over again that cost is the main barrier to them attending weight loss classes. But Lighten Up gives eligible people 12 weeks’ worth of vouchers, to allow them to attend completely free of charge.
When the client calls in to redeem their vouchers, our Lighten Up advisors go through the choices of class in their area. They talk about what a class might involve, and give people the option to go along and observe a class before deciding to join. This takes some of the pressure off and gives them the confidence to go along for that crucial first time.
Without external support like Lighten Up, many people find that they put weight back once they’ve stopped attending classes. So during the 12 weeks of classes, and for up to a year afterwards, the Lighten Up advisors are on hand with regular phone support, offering further advice as well as general encouragement and motivation. They can also pass clients along to a Health Trainer who can help them to put together a longer term plan, should they want to.
Measuring the outcomes
Registering with Lighten Up also means that we can measure outcomes from the scheme (which neither the GP or the class provider would otherwise do).
Last year, Lighten Up worked with well over 5000 people.
The average weight loss at 12 weeks was 5.25 kg per person – so we know that the classes work to help people lose weight, which is brilliant.
But we also find that the average weight loss at 12 months for Lighten Up clients is 5.41 kg per person. That extra loss means that our clients really are making long term changes, sustaining and furthering their weight loss … just as NICE recommends.
And in the clients’ own words…
As with all of Gateway’s services, our Impact Assessment App takes statements from all of our Lighten Up clients.
Here is a selection of comments made in just the last two weeks. These are in answer to the question “how has the Lighten Up service helped you today?”
It’s nice, yeah! In fact it makes me feel more determined to lose the weight I need to.
It’s great because I was referred to the service around a year ago, but didn’t feel I needed your help at the time, then I came across the number and thought ‘let’s try’. It’s great that I’ve just been able to ring back in and refer myself, and I can’t wait to get started and try the classes.
It’s great that someone is concerned and willing to give me help and assistance.
It’s helped me because someone’s interested in how I’m getting on.
I felt disappointed that I had only lost 1/2 lb this week, but [after this call] I’m happier on reflection.
I’m getting the support I need.
Well I feel like I’m being monitored by Weight Watchers and yourselves, so it’s putting pressure on me to lose weight … which is a very good thing, don’t get me wrong!
I feel like I am getting some support, so: great.
Brilliant. It encourages you.
I gasped when I heard what my weight was. I’ve wanted to lose weight for ages now as I have type 2 diabetes. I eat rubbish all the time because I live on my own. I did lose some weight but then fell back in to my old habits. I’ve got to get it off as I have peripheral vascular disease in my legs. If I lost weight I know it would help with my health. This call has helped as you have let me know what is available for me and the best class to attend to get back on track and lose weight. Thank you.
You’re paying attention and it will motivate me to go to my next session.