A-Z

Health and weight (young people)

Community weight management programmes

There are a number of weight management programmes being delivered in community settings in the UK. We talked to people who had attended SHINE (Self Help Independence Nutrition and Exercise), MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do it! Programme), and WATCH IT; a programme delivered by Leeds Primary Care Trust, and other programmes like the Transformed programme and Teen Academy. Community programmes for young people vary in what they offer but have the advantage that they always involve the opportunity to: 

• Meet others with weight problems
• Get advice about a healthy diet
Exercise
 
Sessions may be held on Saturdays or in the evenings after school. The people that we talked to had got involved in the schemes in a number of ways such as:

• Being referred by a doctor
• Being invited for an assessment at school
• Seeing an advert in a local paper
• Hearing about it from a friend, teacher or their parents had found out about it for them
 

Emily was assessed by SHINE at school. They sent a letter to her parents telling them that she was overweight.

View full profile
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I think a good place to start then is perhaps  if you tell me a little bit about how you came to be coming to SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise)?
 
Well I was in year 9 at school, so it was like last year, and the [SHINE Health] bus came to school, and like you did, so that you’d, you’ve had like an assessment, and then you’d get taught, you’d be talking to the people about it, and they’d have like models and stuff like that, and you could go upstairs and go on the Wii or the Gym or, and stuff like that. Um, and they came, they kept records of all the assessments and my BMI was 32.8 which was obese, so, you know, and they sent my Mum and Dad a letter so as soon as we got the letter, I just, I ate healthier, only at first ‘cos my Dad was, used to be obsessed with the Atkins diet, so at first I had like a week or two on the Atkins diet and then we, and then my Mum rang [name] up, and we went to go and see her, and then I decided to join, she gave me options whether to take a, like a leaflet thing home, or to join the group, and I chose to join the group, and it’s been really good ‘cos I’ve like made a load of a friends with it, and everything. So....

 

When was it you started coming?
 
I think it was it in September. So I’ve only just come into the maintenance group.
 
Right, what does that mean?
 
Well it’s like where you can have things, so like you can keep on track.
 
So you have an assessment once a month, and then it’s like, it’s almost like just making sure that you’re keeping on track and then if you have any problems, it’ll help, it’ll make, it’ll stop you from having a relapse. 
 

When the SHINE bus came to Alex'’s school she didn't want to be weighed at first. ( Animated clip).

View full profile
Age at interview: 14
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And I just felt like it weren’t that good. But then SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise), the SHINE bus came to my school. And I were really worried and thinking, “Oh, I don’t want to be weighed” and, “I don’t want to go on it.” But then I went on it and I, and then I got weighed. And everyone like from the school like, “Oh, it’s all right. You don’t have to show it anybody.” Because they print you a receipt off. “You don’t have to show it anybody. You’ll be fine. We’ll all do it together. Come on.” So I went on and I just really enjoyed it, all the exercise things upstairs. And then I went home and told my mum. And they give you like a leaflet about it, and I asked my mum if I could join. And we went to see Kath and she just said, “Yes, it would be good to have you.” And so I just come and it’s just enjoyable to come.
 
 

Emma's 'head of year' suggested she attend SHINE. At first she didn't want to go, but felt better over time.

View full profile
Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well, I were 14, I were at school one day and I were in a tutorial session and with quite a lot of my friends and stuff and my head of year at that time come into the tutorial and actually took me out and said, “Look there’s this group where you can build your confidence and your self-esteem and lose weight, and things. I think you should go.” And at that point in time I were like, I had no confidence whatsoever, and I’m like, I’m only coming if my friends go. And there were two of my friends that were in the same situation and same boat as me, and I were like, “I’m only coming if they come as well.”
 
So I think we ended up coming together, but on the first day I stood outside on my own and I were just like, “I’m not going in.” I didn’t want to go in. I didn’t speak to nobody for like three weeks, and I just, even though my friends were there I just felt like I don’t, I just felt like that I wanted to do it, I knew I wanted to do it, but I felt like hang on a minute, it’s a different position here, it’s out of your comfort zone. What is gonna happen to me? And it were just the whole situation in your head where you get into a situation and you know you’re already thinking, “Well this could happen, this could happen, this could happen. And what will I do if it does?” And it, I think it were all that situation for me, that made me a bit wary at first, but then as I got into it, and as like I found, I know that everybody were in the same situation as me basically, and I started to feel more confident in myself, that I realised that I weren’t on my own, that I did have people that would help me, that could help me make a difference basically.
 
When I first started SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) like obviously I spent a couple of weeks where I didn’t talk to anybody, so obviously I weren’t making friends, but then something suddenly clicked and I realised that yeah, everybody’s in the same situation as me, I’ve got no need to be the shy and quiet one that opts out of everything. And then I started getting involved in sports and things, and people, it were like people accepted me, and it were just like being accepted made me a more confident person.
 
And it, I think it were just the fact that they were in the same situation and that I were accepted here that made me like just go for it, and just like try and make the small changes that made a difference in my life. 
What happens?
Programmes generally involve a wide array of activities including acting and dancing as well as sports and role play. The SHINE programme aims to boost confidence and help the young people who take part to deal with aggression and bullying. No-one is forced to take part in any activity – they can sit it out if they prefer. Some said that they had chosen to ‘sit it out’ for several weeks before they finally joined in.
 

At first Chelsea lacked the confidence to get involved in the SHINE program, but things got better once she started talking to people.

View full profile
Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I got up from being low confidence. I… when I first started SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) I just used, used to sit, for six weeks of the program I just sat in a corner, didn’t talk to anybody. I wouldn’t even talk to any of the friends that I’d made. I just sat in the corner.
 
And then after my six weeks, I just thought to myself, I’ve got to start getting involved otherwise it’s not going to change.
 
So I started talking to people, getting involved with other things. And I never used to do any activity. I never used to go the sports, the gym. I never used to do anything. I thought it would, if I just went to that that place, that program that helps you, then it would all of just come off of me. But we all had to work as, so I had to work as well as that program working for me.
 
So I had to give something to get something. So I started doing my exercise on a Tuesdays. I didn’t go to swimming for a bit because I was ashamed of who I was and how I was.
 
And then I started to go swimming. And then I started going to the gym. And now I do every activity going. I help other people who are like… share my experience of what I’ve been through with other people to help them.
 
So it’s all just been a big change for me. 
 

Bella enjoyed the activities at her Saturday club because everyone was friendly and she didn't feel she was being forced to do anything.

View full profile
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
It was like people like me, but they didn’t bully you or force you to do it. They asked you nicely and if you didn’t want to do it you could just sit out. But it, it, like everyone wanted to be your friend and everyone wanted to get along with each other. And no, nothing horrible was said to you. And they were just like being polite and being nice. And we learnt a load of stuff about fruits that we’ve never heard of, veg that we’ve never heard of, and we just listened to it and did exercises and teamwork. And we just made a load of friends. And it were fun.
 
And you said that,  you know, they didn’t used to tell you what to do and if you wanted to sit out, you, you could. Was that something that you, was important for you?
 
Yes, because it makes you feel like you’re not forced to do it. Like sport at school and that, teachers yell at you to do it. But you feel uncomfortable to do it for who’s watching and that. And eve-, so it’s best to sit out with it. But with this and that, you could sit out if you don’t feel comfortable with it. And it helps you because you don’t feel like you’re forced in it. You don’t think they’re making you do it. And the more you did it and that, the more, there were like stars that you get prizes for, like water bottles, T-shirts. And there was [sport team] tickets. And it were fun. And it was like, it was done during the afternoon, but every Saturday and that, and the teacher, teachers used to give up their time just to take me. 
 
What helped?
The programmes offer buddying and peer support which people liked because they were being advised by someone who had recently been through the programme themselves. People who had problems at school or at home were able to see a programme counsellor and everyone took part in role play that helped them to understand how to remain calm in difficult situations and resist bullying through displaying confidence. One girl said that attending her course was a bit like ‘High School Musical’ because it is young people who go and everyone is in the same boat with no bullies or name calling.
 

The SHINE programme has helped Naz and Anaan to feel calmer and be less aggressive.

View full profile
Age at interview: 18
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Naz' Every week we had a target.
 
Anaan' Not just that, but it helped on things like body image, we did stuff on body image. We did stuff on confidence and self esteem. And we did stuff on like how to deal with aggression which I found really useful.
 
Naz' That was true.
 
Anaan' Things like that. And in fact that aggressive stuff we did on aggression actually has helped me calm down a lot more, like at home, because at home I used to find that I’d always get really, I was very quick to snap. And it helped me deal with that a lot more, so now I’m a lot more calmer at home. And I think that was a really good thing, because that helped me to lose weight as well, because I was being calm and I wasn’t getting stressed, because like you say, that you eat more when you’re stressed. I don’t. I don’t eat anything at all. I go off food.
 
That also happens to me when I’m stressed. I eat more when I’m bored.
 
And I think that’s what, it helped me calm down in that I was still eating healthily. I wasn’t not eating and I was just eating okay. Because I was calm, I wasn’t angry at anything. And I think I found that really useful. 
People also liked being given practical help with healthy eating and props including a ‘portion plate’ or a portion divided lunchbox. Those who had puzzled over why their brother or sister didn’t  seem to put on weight whatever they ate were pleased to have found an explanation when they learnt about ‘metabolism’ on the course. But the real benefit of the programme seems to be in how much more motivated young people feel when they are not trying to go it alone.
 

Alex eats less using the portion plate that she was given at SHINE. (Animated...

View full profile
Age at interview: 14
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Why do you think, how have you lost it [weight]?
 
By like portion sizes. Because SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) taught us that that was the m-, most important thing. And you could eat what you want, just in moderation. So, and they give me like a portion plate. And it, that’s helped a right, a right lot. Because you think, now if I go to my friend’s house and I don’t have it, they’ll like put so much on your, on your plate, and you think, “That’s a right lot to eat.” Whereas before I thought, “Oh, there’s not that much there,” before I used that. But now you just think, and by the time you’ve finished eating like half of it, you think, “Oh, I’m full,” because you’ve been used to the portion sizes.
 
 
Text onlyRead below

Daniel had been to see a dietitian a few times but found the SHINE programme much more motivating

View full profile
Sex: Male
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well, as my mum works in a special needs school well Kath Sharman went in and she did like an assembly on SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise). So mum thought because she was a bit... worried with my weight and so she thought how this would be an opportunity for him to become healthier. And so she rang up and said, ‘My son would like him to start on the new, SHINE project. And then that’s how I really started with SHINE. And then ever since I’ve just really enjoyed it. And I’ve lost weight and confidence has been built up. I am in shows. I do a lot of acting and dancing and things like that.
 
Well when I was young I never really went to the doctor but I had a few  dietitian appointments and they never really seemed to help. Like all they had were a few like healthy eating sheets and when you get home you’re not really bothered about that sort of thing. You want something really motivating and at SHINE like they have sports and swimming on Wednesdays so it’s just really helpful and everyone else is there in the same situation as you. So it really helps when you see everyone around you trying hard. You think, well I want to try hard as well so we can all be the same.
 
 

Naz and Anaan explain why they joined the SHINE programme.

View full profile
Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Anaan' Basically we join SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) because one of the girls across the road from [friend’s name], who’s also on the project, she heard about it before we did. And  her Mum came to us and said, “Oh there’s this  weight thing going on at [name] School and  would you like to take part. They do activities. And they teach you about like how to cook healthy meals and things like that.  And I have to admit it was like the physical activity side that really pushed me into doing it. Mostly because I did know quite a bit about healthy eating, and for me personally that is not the aspect that I struggle with. Its more, actually, you know, the physical exercise bit that I find harder to do. So the fact that it would be a guarantee of every week at least doing some form of physical exercise, was really what sort of pushed me into doing it. And, basically that’s how I got into SHINE.
 
Okay and you?
 
Naz' With me, though, because  half of my family, on my Dad’s side, they’ve all got problems with the heart basically and basically another thing is that my Dad’s side of the family, half of them are really fat, really fat, and  I got really worried because I looked in the mirror and I could say to myself that I really look ugly compared to my sisters. Many of them have thought I’m older than my sister, but I’m the youngest and I actually went to the doctor to say that I want some tablets to help me lose weight. But then the doctor said for me to, “There’s a group called SHINE.” But I had heard of SHINE a couple of years ago, but I could never find it, and the doctor referred to SHINE, which actually has been really good help for me.
What didn’t help?
These programmes didn’t suit everyone. Gemma went to a ‘Watch It’ course and very much liked the young woman who worked with her, but she didn’t think the programme had helped her much – not least because the diet sheets included too many things that she did not enjoy eating.
 

Mary’'s son wasn't keen to go to the MEND programme because the kids all had to wear a group T-shirt.

View full profile
Age at interview: 49
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I really don’t know how it first. I think what happened was I came just came across a reference to it somewhere in something. Oh, I do remember now that there was kind of a free magazine that used to come here, a dietetics thing and there was a little column in the back of it by the MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition … Do it! Programme), Paul, somebody to do with MEND. And I remember reading it and then I looked it up on the website and, you know, it seemed to make a lot of sense. And then sent off an enquiry and they just said there was one happening very locally to us that was starting up. And would be interested in going along to that so we signed up for it and, you know, it was, it was very good. And then for a while after it finished we kept in touch with some of the other parents but that seems to have sort of dwindled. I mean we do still get some information from them which is good. Because it’s like a lot of training I think if you don’t have the back up. So, for example, we got something in just before the summer holidays saying how important to do exercise and giving new ideas and things.
 
And then they did contact me before Christmas, the local one where we’d been to say that they’d only had a few children on, on it and  would my son like to come along to the exercise sessions? But he thought about it and he wouldn’t go because he said, “Oh, I don’t really know anybody and.” The other thing was that the only thing he did find, sort of, negative about it was, it was at a local leisure centre and they had t-shirts that they had to wear, you know, which said, “MEND” on them and he didn’t like doing that because he said he was really worried that anybody from school would see him and I mean they were fine about it. They said, “Well, you know, we’ll only wear them when we’re up in the classroom.” Or something like that. Not, so that you don’t have to wear them and I mean they didn’t make a big fuss now to be to be fair to them. But I do remember discussing it here with people that on the one hand the good thing about the t-shirts was it made people feel they were a group but on the other hand, in his mind, he saw it as kind of labelling him, “I’m a fat kid.” Even though I said to him, “Most people won’t know what it is.” But that didn’t matter to him, you know.  
 

Dee’s daughter enjoyed some aspects of the 'Transformed' programme, and learnt to cook new foods, but didn't manage to stick to the changes after a holiday.

View full profile
Age at interview: 47
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Meeting the other children, she kept in contact with friend, you know, two of the kids… I think she thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I think she really did, but I think whilst she was doing it… she was really into the sort of, you know, losing weight and that, afterwards we kind of, it, spent ages trying to cook the foods and to do all the bits and pieces and we went all organic which was costing me a fortune and she was kind of, she learnt how to cook some of the foods but for some reason it just didn’t fit into real life, you know, as we started to get busier, as she started to do more, and that, she just couldn’t keep it up, she couldn’t keep it up at all, and that, and then she’d miss seeing friend at the gym and then that sort of seized up. And we went on, we went to Jamaica that was it, we went on holiday, we went to Jamaica and we were in an all inclusive hotel and that’s when she actually gained quite a bit of weight although she was swimming and everything else every day. 
Successes
The young people we talked to thought that SHINE had been really successful in building their confidence and self-esteem. They had made lots of new friends and found that they could really enjoy sports, swimming and activities in an environment where they didn’t feel that people judged their size and appearance.

Some of the success stories are quite dramatic, for example Chelsea lost 6.5 stone (42 kg) over 2 years through gradual and steady weight loss. Like many other young people we spoke to, she stayed involved with the programme helping out with new members. Chelsea has talked about the programme at conferences, something she never would have imagined doing before.

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated July 2017.

donate
Previous Page
Next Page