SLIMMING World is poised to return to groups as soon as it is safe to do so to support the millions of people whose weight puts them at the greatest risk of being most affected by Covid-19.
In the meantime, the weight loss organisation has temporarily transformed its in-person groups to a ‘virtual’ online service, which gives vital support to members as they do their best to maintain a healthy weight during lockdown.
And Slimming World has welcomed the Prime Minister’s demands for action to tackle the UK’s obesity crisis as Covid-19 statistics show managing a healthy weight has never been more important.
Early evidence on the spectrum of symptoms caused by the virus has identified that people with obesity could have an increased risk of dying from it by 37 per cent.
In addition, recent statistics from the Office of National Statistics show 25 per cent of those who died because of Covid-19 were people with diabetes, with Type 2 diabetes commonly linked with obesity.
Caryl Richards, CEO of Slimming World, said: “I was delighted to read about the Prime Minister’s commitment to making responsible weight management a renewed focus in tackling obesity because of its link to Covid-19 and we are offering our expertise and support in this huge challenge.
“Slimming World already plays an essential role in the health of the nation. In normal circumstances, our 19,000 weekly community groups provide support to nearly one million members.
“Those groups are currently temporarily suspended and while we are successfully running a temporary virtual service for our members through our 4,500 self-employed consultants we are poised to reopen our doors, as soon as it is safe to do so, to support people to lose weight, remain slim and improve health outcomes.”
Ms Richards added: “Even as the whole country went into lockdown, the Government recognised the benefits of exercise to mental and physical health.
“But exercise alone will not solve the problems of obesity – Slimming World exists to facilitate behavioural change to support our members.
“Through our unique peer support programme members learn sustainable habits to eat healthily and enjoy the benefits of physical activity, to lose weight successfully and remain slim for life.
“The NHS is doing amazing work in its response to the pandemic, but it simply does not have the essential resources – especially now – to help people manage their weight.
“Slimming World is an essential partner in helping people at extra risk from Covid-19. We already work with the Government through Public Health England and with the NHS through our referral service – and we need to open our groups as soon as, within Government guidelines, it is safe to do so.”