Guernsey Press

Fighting back in battle of bulge

PROJECTS to support eating well and being active will aim to tackle the island’s obesity problem.

The Health Improvement Commission has the responsibility for producing programmes to support islanders to be active, eat well and have a healthier weight. Left to right, Alex Kosmas, community nutritionist, Lucy Whitman, healthier weight lead, and chief executive Dr Simon Sebire. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 26704109)

Findings from the recently-released Guernsey and Alderney Wellbeing survey 2018 revealed more than half of the 2,656 respondents were classed as overweight or obese. However, it also showed that 46% of people intended to lose weight in the next six months.

Those involved in healthy life management in the island are eager to help.

The Health Improvement Commission has said a number of projects it is involved in will assist in promoting healthier lifestyles. This includes the Football Fans in Training programme, as well as a weight management dietician pilot called Counterweight-Plus, an intervention used to support sustained weight loss, beginning in 2020.

‘With regard to population weight status, it is concerning that since 2013 there has been an increase in the proportion of the adult population reporting having excess weight, to 56% in 2018,’ said healthier weight lead Lucy Whitman.

‘The Health Improvement Commission now leads on the delivery of community actions to support islanders to be active, eat well and have a healthier weight and is using local research, such as the results from the Guernsey and Alderney Wellbeing Survey, to identify areas to focus on.’

She added that as a priority, the commission has invested in new staff to focus on making healthy eating in the community easier and promoting and enabling everyday walking and cycling.

‘Changes to everyday behaviours are far more likely to lead to long-term shifts in how we live,’ she said.

‘We are supporting a number of initiatives with the States Early Years Team and early years providers across the Bailiwick to support staff, parents and their children to embed healthy nutrition and physical activity in daily life from an early age.

‘This was supported with training in November for all health visitors on supporting families in these areas.

‘We’re also working together with schools on active travel, physical activity and healthy eating provision and practice and other key influencers in young people’s lives, such as the Youth and Sports Commissions.’

The survey also included a new question on the composition of meals, which compared meals prepared at home to those pre-prepared.

It showed that people in the younger age ranges tended to prepare fewer meals from basic ingredients than older people and men did more of their eating on the go, compared with women.

Ms Whitman added this would help the commission in the delivery of its work in the community.

‘We know that in the food environment, how often we are prompted to buy and consume unhealthy foods,’ she said.

‘The options we have to eat well are important drivers of our behaviour.

‘Information such as this will help the commission shape its projects in the coming year.’

n An online directory, which signposts people to support for healthy weight, nutrition support and activity, can be accessed via