In this week’s blog I will be focusing on a topic that is on a global issue, with more prevalence in the care sector, obesity.
There are many reasons that can lead to people becoming obese. These could be due to genetics, medical conditions, medication, societal or environmental factors or purely down to lifestyle choices.
Firstly, I would like to share some UK statistics with you which are rather worrying. It shows that 1 in 4 people in the general public are obese, this rises to 1 in 3 in the learning disability population.
Research also shows that only 10% of adults with a learning disability, living in supported accommodation, eat a balanced diet and 80% of people with a learning disability do not engage in recommended amounts of physical activity.
Research has identified the following barriers:
- Staff lack of knowledge about purchasing food and cooking healthy meals
- Lack of time: shopping for and preparing healthy meals can be time-consuming which often leads to the frequent use of ready meals
- Use of food and drinks as a reward or means of control
- Over-reliance on unhealthy activities, for example driving to a café or pub
- Staff making unhealthy choices themselves ; staff need to be encouraged to become healthy role models
- Limited staffing can make it difficult to attend exercise classes or take part in health activities. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, mobility difficulties, mental ill health and some cancers. The subsequent risks to health are greater in individuals with a learning disability, who may already have underlying health conditions.
Staff have a duty of care to work with health professionals to provide people we support with information about the risks of being overweight or obese, helping people to make informed choices about their lifestyle.
CMG staff can help by:
- Motivating people we support to eat more healthily and take more exercise, and by being a good role model!
- Encouraging people to attend their annual health check.
- Suggesting people join a local slimming club, gym and exercise class.
- Asking people what activities they are interested in (indoor and outdoor) and organizing regular physical activities, and make sure it happens!
- Using the government eat well guide to support people to eat a well-balanced diet, minimising intake of processed food as these tend to be high in saturated fat/sugar/salt and can increase weight and threaten health.
- Using the CMG Healthy Lifestyle Pack to help people menu plan and to offer tips on diet, nutrition and exercise; educate people using the activities within the pack about healthy food swaps, food labels and five a day.
- Attending the CMG ‘Supporting Good Health in Adults with Learning Disabilities’ work shop, as there is a strong focus of diet, nutrition and physical exercise.
- Helping CMG fulfil their commitment to the VODG Health Charter. Obesity is a key focus area. Our aim is to help people improve their diet and physical activity to either reduce or maintain weight, minimising risk of developing health conditions associated with obesity.
- Supporting people to attend the ‘let’s get physical event’ this summer where we will cover health promotion in general for adults with LD.
- Celebrating people’s success and achievements, losing weight and maintaining weight is a big deal!
I would like to share with you all a lovely case study from one of our services in Hove.
The staff at Rutland Gardens recognised that all of the people they support were overweight and didn’t have much confidence. So they actively decided to do something about it.
They asked each person what they enjoyed doing, what they liked wearing and what they liked to eat. Their focus was on empowering the people rather than ‘losing weight’.
Hannah Bailey, service manager told me how one individual had always wanted her hair long, yet always had it cut short, as she thought she couldn’t grow it. Now she has long her and is always telling the staff that she looks like a princess.
Alongside building self-esteem and body image confidence of the people they support, the staff have reviewed menus and food choices. They support people to cook using fresh ingredients to reduce salt, sugar and calorie intake. When introducing new food they make it fun with themed food nights and taster sessions.
All of the people they support take part in various exercises/ activities. The staff have helped support the individuals to achieve some amazing outcomes. These include attending the gym, badminton, tai chi classes, line dancing and they all love to walk!
One lady has joined slimming world and walks to and from which is around 3 miles, she also walks to her new voluntary job which is another 3.5 miles twice a week.
These changes didn’t happen overnight and it has been a slow challenging process. But it really does show the effect good roles models and a strong support system have on the lifestyles of the people that are supported.
Well done to everyone at Rutland Gardens!
Please see below for photos of the weight loses of some of the people that are supported at Rutland Gardens.
Lisa has lost over 4 stone and has gone from a size 24 to a size 16. Lisa attends the gym and walks over 6 miles a week. She plays football, badminton and goes swimming with her boyfriend and wants to start Zumba Classes.
Michelle has made huge changes to her life, most of all her confidence. She has really grown as a person and is making choices for herself and not letting others decide.
Sharon now attends the gym twice a week, walks and uses her exercies bike. She swapped crisps and choclates for healthy snacks. She has gone from 19 stone to 14st 13lb. She is currently the lightest she has been in 11 years.