Help for the seriously overweight in Oxfordshire

21 July 2010, 06:00 | Updated: 21 July 2010, 09:22

Experts from Reading are offering help for people in Oxfordshire who are dangerously overweight.

The Oxfordshire Weight Loss Lifestyle Service (OWLS) will offer morbidly obese people who have proved they are committed to losing weight and becoming healthier an intensive programme of nutrition, exercise and psychological support to help them reach their goals.

The service is only available via GP referral to those people aged over 16 within NHS Oxfordshire's area who have already spent at least six months trying to lose weight with nursing support or through a slimming club like Weight Watchers or Slimming World.

It's being provided by the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust which will provide doctors, specialist nurses, dietitians and psychologists to support an individual with serious weight problems. The team will operate from Oxfordshire leisure centres.

Kate King, Health Improvement Principal for NHS Oxfordshire, said:

"This service is available to people whose health is at serious risk because of their weight and who have demonstrated they are taking responsibility and ownership for the problem. Someone in this position is often stuck in their current behaviour and needs more intensive, professional support and help to move on. The OWLS team has the expertise to help them get where they need to be.

"We all need to face up to obesity and tackle this serious health problem as the burden on the NHS is already taking its toll.

"I would urge everyone to avoid getting to a position where their weight is a serious problem by eating a varied and healthy diet and being physically active every day. If you are worried about your weight seek advice from your GP or Practice Nurse."

Consultant physician Dr Mohgah Elsheikh, who heads the OWLS team, said:

"This is a really exciting initiative to encourage obese people to lose weight. Making effective lifestyle changes is all about having support and advice available at the right time and in the right place for patients. This community based service aims to draw on the experience of a dedicated team of health professionals to maximise a patient's ability to succeed in their weight management goals."

Facts about Obesity

  • A person is considered to be morbidly obese if they have a Body Mass Index of 40 or more. It is estimated that approximately 13,000 adults in Oxfordshire are in this group.
  • Obesity can lead to cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Almost one in four adults in Oxfordshire is obese and the cost of treating people with weight-related illness will cost the county about £159 million by 2015 at current rates. 
  • Nationally obesity costs the NHS more than double the amount smoking-related illnesses.