Breaking fixed patterns of behaviour vital for change

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OBESITY is like an addiction.

So says managing director of Sheffield’s Shine Academy Kath Sharman. (SHINE stands for Self Help Independence Nutrition and Exercise)

“People turn to food for their emotional wellbeing. The psychological causes of obesity are not usually mentioned. A lot of people who have life traumas have a poor relationship with food because they are emotional eaters.

“It’s really difficult for young people to make these changes when they have developed fixed patterns of behaviour developed over six or seven years. Lifestyle changes have to be made.

“It can be a vicious circle. Overweight people have low esteem and low self-confidence.

“They often stop going to school because of that and bullying and then when the time comes they can’t get jobs so the depression deepens.”

Kath Sharman believes the message for change is simple but the self-discipline and behavioral changes required to battle obesity are more difficult to sustain.

“People are wanting to go on our 12-week courses but obesity keeps coming back,” she said. We run a healthy lifestyle programme which helps obese young people aged 10 to 17 through advice and education courses. Quick fixes don’t work, it takes time.

“The courses are run by professionals, nurses, counsellors, youth workers. We run the 12-week modules but people can stay with us for as long as they need help.”

Funded by Children In Need charities and local community funds SHINE is in the front line in the continuing battle against obesity.

“Obesity is an indicator of deprivation but a lot of our population is overweight,” adds Kath. We have been running courses for nine years and they have been full for nine years.

“Overweight and obesity are problems that need family, school and societal input to make a real difference.”