Weight management

Weight management

Losing weight

Being overweight presents a lot of additional health risks which can significantly worsen, or even shorten, your life. Obesity increases the risks of:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Some types of cancer (breast and bowel in particular)
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

Obesity can also cause serious problems in your day to day life:

  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Joint and back pain
  • Isolation
  • Increased sweating

The best way to lose weight is to eat a healthy reduced-calorie diet and exercise regularly. Your GP can suggest safe and healthy diets for you to follow as well as recommend local weight management programmes with group meetings or online support if you feel you would benefit from that.

Eating well

Sometimes it can be hard to make sure we are eating healthily as we get distracted with work, family, friends and just grab whatever is easiest and cheapest. But eating the right food is key in losing weight. Some tips for eating a healthy, calorie-reduced diet are:

To lose weight healthily:

  • Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
  • Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
  • Eat less saturated fat, sugar and salt

NHS Weight Management Programme

The NHS Digital Weight Management Programme supports adults living with obesity who also have a diagnosis of diabetes and/or hypertension, to manage their weight and improve their health. It is a free 12-week online course that people can access via a smartphone or computer.

Your GP may refer you to it if:

  • Over 18
  • You have a BMI greater than 30
    – This threshold will be lowered to 27.5 for those from black, Asian, and ethnic minority backgrounds, because people from these ethnic backgrounds are at an increased risk of conditions such as Type 2 diabetes at a lower BMI.
  • Have diabetes or hypertension

If you do not have diabetes or hypertension but are still looking to lose weight, then the NHS Better Health programme may be useful


You don’t have to be a world-class athlete in order to exercise! Even gentle activity for 2.5 – 5 hours a week is beneficial for weight loss.


Couch to 5k

Taking up running can seem like a scary prospect, especially if you feel out of shape or unfit. NHS Couch to 5K will help you gradually work up towards running 5km in just 9 weeks. Couch to 5K works because it starts with a mix of running and walking to gradually build up your fitness and stamina. Week 1 involves running for just a minute at a time, creating realistic expectations and making the challenge feel achievable right from the start.

You can have Couch to 5K as an iTunes podcast for download, or as an app from the App Store or Google Play


If you are looking to run or jog in a more social setting, then Parkrun is for you. These are weekly group events held at 9am on a Saturday and you can treat it as a run, a jog, or even just a walk and a chat!

Gaining weight

Being underweight could mean you’re missing out on vitamins and minerals. This could lead to health problems such as a weak immune system and bone fractures.

Please speak to a GP if you have lost weight suddenly and/or unintentionally as this could be a sign of something more serious.

See here for more details on gaining weight

Eating well

To gain weight healthily:

  • Eat smaller meals more often, adding healthy snacks between meals
  • Have high-calorie drinks in between meals, such as milkshakes
  • Add protein to your meals with beans, pulses, fish, eggs and lean meat
  • Have snacks that are easy to prepare, such as yogurt or rice pudding
  • Do not rely on chocolate, cakes and sugary drinks to gain weight
  • Do not fill up on drinks before eating meals


Just because you are looking to gain weight doesn’t mean you should stop exercising! Building muscle through strength training and yoga is really useful when looking to gain weight. It can also increase your appetite which will also hep with weight gain.