1. ITV Report

'Use the stairs more often': Stoke-on-Trent city council to send motivational texts to tackle obesity

Obese people in Stoke-on-Trent will receive motivational text messages to encourage them to lose weight, the city council has revealed.

Around 100,000 people in the region are considered overweight or obese with the cost to local NHS services standing at £50 million a year, a council spokesperson said.

Motivational texts include:

  • "Aim to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each day, at least 5 portions throughout the day"
  • "Aim to eat regular meals and keep a check on snacks and drinks"
  • "Maybe walk to the shops or use the stairs more often"
Obese people in Stoke-on-Trent are eligible for a new 'pioneering' scheme. Credit: PA Wire

The project, which the council claims will "save money and suffering", will cost £10,000 and around 500 people can sign up to the scheme.

The council said the texts were an example of "early intervention" designed to help people start helping themselves before medical support - which can be "so expensive and personally upsetting" is required.

Stoke-on-Trent council said people who have a BMI of 25 or over and are over 18 - will be invited to get in touch if they want support.

Participants will then receive daily texts and a weekly questionnaire about their weight-loss plan.

Motivational text messages may be used to encourage people to lose weight. Credit: PA Wire

Adrian Knapper, Cabinet Member for Health, Well Being and Culture, said the initiative was a cost-effective way of supporting people in "changing their lifestyles, through taking more exercise and improving their diets".

"It costs £10,000 on average to perform just one intervention operation to help people manage their weight - and the costs of obesity for the local NHS in terms of increased levels of disability, disease and early death are frightening - £50million a year.

"Our programme means people who already want to lose weight and have signed up with us to get support will receive a cheap and effective nudge to help them keep them motivated," he said."

Many have praised the scheme as a cost effective use of public funds. Credit: PA Wire

NHS Leadership Academy Innovator of the Year Award Winner, Phil O'Connell, praised Stoke City Council's "pioneering" cost-effective programme.

"This is work that is causing significant interest internationally.

"And this low cost preventative method is a really cost effective use of public funds, helping people before they reach the stage of needing massively expensive treatment for a range of obesity related problems including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and disability.

"This is what public health action should be all about."