Fighting Fat in Oxfordshire

17 November 2011, 05:00 | Updated: 17 November 2011, 11:24

A year after a programme started to get seriously overweight people in Oxfordshire to change their attitudes to food - Heart's found out 400 have already taken part.

The Oxfordshire Weight-loss Lifestyle Service (OWLS) has a dietician, exercise expert and a psychologist to help people realise why they're eating so much.

Desmond Fanning, 65, put on loads of weight after recovering from leukaemia.

He decided he had to get his weight under control when he saw his new grandchild could crawl faster than he could walk.

He managed to shift 3 stone from his 23 stone frame before stalling. He then joined OWLS and 11 months later has made steady progress by dropping a further 2 stone.

He's told Heart the difference is massive. He doesn't have diabetes anymore and finds doing simple things a lot easier;

"When I go into the garden I can bend over without getting out of breath - that's the biggest thing - I can breath easier with the weight gone.

"I can go into any high-street store and buy any clothes off the rack whereas before I was getting to the point where I'd have to get clothes on the internet because they were the only people to sell clothes in the size I required."

The progamme is being run for NHS Oxfordshire by the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and is modelled on their own existing programme.

The 12 weekly sessions alternate between a dietician and a psychologist followed by nine monthly sessions in community halls across Oxfordshire.

There are strict criteria to joining the group. Patients must be referred by their GP, they must be morbidly obese and must have shown they've tried to lose weight with other methods such as slimming groups.

A spokesperson for the programme says this ends up saving the NHS lots of money as patients with diabetes come off the medication and fewer people need expensive operations like knee and hip replacements caused by their weight.