Healthy eating scheme

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A MASSIVELY successful scheme in Morecambe is helping people with learning difficulties to make healthier food choices and lose weight.

The Watching Our Weight Club, or ‘WOW’ for short, is a scheme developed by Chartered Physiotherapist Dr Jeff Bartley and funded by NHS North Lancashire.

The scheme is holding a ‘Grand Weigh-In’ on Tuesday, February 15 at Thorpe View Day Centre in Torrisholme.

WOW club members are being encouraged to go along and get healthy eating advice and free food recipes.

Those interested in finding out more about the club are also being encouraged to go along to the event, which is being held from 9.30am until 12.30pm.

It is planned that the weigh in sessions will become a regular feature of the club to try and encourage good weight management routines and to motivate WOW members to lead more healthier and active lives.

The WOW club is based upon research which shows that people with learning disabilities have a high incidence of obesity and inactivity and face more challenges with these issues than the general population.

Following a successful pilot in 2008, the WOW club has gone on to win awards and is now reaching out to a wider audience by producing a newsletter.

The publication is aimed at people with learning difficulties, as well as their families and carers, and is helping to provide a focal point for people to discuss and share their ideas for healthy eating and lifestyles.

Dr Jeff Bartley, Chartered Physiotherapist and Active Living Co-ordinator for NHS North Lancashire, said: “The staring philosophy for the WOW club was not to ‘point the finger’ at people’s weight but to help them create more healthy food and drink options and help them ‘bin’ the more obvious unhealthy options that were in their day to day lives.

“Very little has been done in this field for people with learning disabilities and yet they face more barriers than most to achieving healthier and more active lives.

“Their complex needs and challenging behaviours mean they are unable to access mainstream weight management clubs because they are not pitched at an appropriate level.

“The WOW club aims to address this inequality and is designed specifically to meet the members’ communication, cognitive and social support needs.

“We are encouraging all those with a learning difficulty who are interested in improving their lifestyles and eating more healthily to come to our weigh in session and sign up to our scheme.”