Patients at Freshwell Health Centre in Finchingfield, Essex, have lost over a metric tonne in weight after following a low carb weight loss programme run by GPs at the surgery.
The programme has been so successful that it has now been rolled out to the whole of the Colne Valley Primary Care Network area, including Pump House Surgery in Earls Colne, Coggeshall and Elizabeth Courtauld Surgeries, Freshwell Health Centre, Hedingham Medical Centre and Kelvedon and Feering Health Centre.
Dr Ronan Fenton, System Medical Director for Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership, said: ‘In mid and south Essex, we want to ensure that as many people as possible live healthy fulfilled lives without needing health and care input. However, when they do need help, it’s there in the best way possible within the resource available. That way people live longer, and the Health and Care System lasts longer. The Colne Valley Low Carb Programme is a great example of local healthcare teams listening to and working with their local citizens to do exactly that – well done!’
The low carb weight loss programme was devised by doctors Dr David Oliver and Dr Kim Andrews, alongside fellow GPs from Freshwell Health Centre, who wanted to offer an alternative method to traditional calorie counting, so decided to try a low carb approach.
Obesity is associated with many diseases including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and bowel cancer, as well as stroke. It can also lead to mental health conditions affecting the quality of life and can potentially lead to psychological problems, such as depression and low self-esteem.
Dr Oliver said: “We know that excess weight can often lead to serious long-term conditions and with 63% of Essex adults currently overweight or obese. This emerging crisis needs to be tackled before it becomes more critical”.
GPs at Freshwell Health Centre started by advising people with a BMI of over 25 and those that had type 2 diabetes, or nondiabetic hyperglycaemia, about a low carb lifestyle through reducing their sugar and carbohydrate intake as well as setting up the Freshwell Low Carb Project and information website https://lowcarbfreshwell.co.uk.
In addition to the website, they have now also developed a free Freshwell App available here: www.lowcarbfreshwell.co.uk/App-2
Programme participant, Viv Hamilton, said: “I was obese for 20 years and now I’ve lost five and a half stone over 15 months. I feel great and I don’t get arthritis pain in my knee anymore. Low carb isn’t like traditional quick fix diets, it’s a lifestyle change that actually works and keeps working and for me it’s easier to stick to as my meals are delicious and I’m not starving myself.”
Programme results at 12 weeks show that 94% of participants lost weight, with 60% achieving greater than 5% of their body weight loss, an average of 6kg per patient. Freshwell Health Centre has also reduced their diabetes drug spend by £12,000 in the last year, with 17% of their type 2 diabetes people now in medication free remission. The programme also offers one-to-one telephone coaching sessions, up to six sessions over 12 weeks, to help people to focus on achieving their goals.
Positive outcomes from the programme include not only people losing weight, but also many had blood pressure and cholesterol levels dramatically improved. Participants also managed improved control of their type 2 diabetes to such a point where some reduced or stopped their medication, including insulin use in some cases.
People have also benefited from a reduction in cravings for processed foods, increased energy levels, significantly improved feelings of wellbeing and reduced levels of discomfort. Even for those not looking to lose weight, many have benefitted from a reduction in visceral fat (unseen fat which can coat organs such as your liver) and improved blood cholesterol levels.
A Facebook group has been set up to support people following the programme where they can discuss low carb recipes and offer further support to each other. You can join the Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/382235179606729/
The project has been so successful that other PCNs are now looking to develop their own low carb programme.
To join the programme for free ,to read more about the programme, and to watch the video to hear more from the Freshwell team and some of the low carb programme participants, visit the Colne Valley PCN website. The programme is available free to people registered with one of the PCN’s six surgeries and is designed for people with a body mass index of at least 25 who are looking to lose weight and/or those with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
For more information relating to the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership please contact [email protected]