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This week is National Obesity Awareness Week, in a bid to capitalise on the ‘new year, new you’ wave. The aim is to make a sustainable, positive change to your lifestyle to help tackle the problem of obesity. A good idea in principle – but what can really be done within the fitness industry to make an impact on this growing epidemic?

In honour of National Obesity Awareness Week, we asked chief medical adviser for Active IQ Dr Dane Vishnubala that very question. He tells FitPro, “Old but still important news, obesity remains an issue. Current national statistics show 58% of women and 68% of men are overweight or obese. NHS data shows 525,000 admissions to hospital have obesity recorded as a factor.”

He explains, “In terms of obesity, there is still in many circles this notion that in order to lose weight you must exercise. While physical activity is extremely important and has a key role in weight maintenance and other health benefits, in order to lose weight we must firstly address the quantity of food consumed and, secondly, focus on the quality of that food. In the NHS, there is a term ‘MECC’, meaning ‘making every contact count’. If every fitness professional in our industry made their every contact count by providing brief nutrition and lifestyle advice, who knows what difference we could make to the nation’s health?”

We asked FitPro contributor and mind and body coach Kim Ingleby her top take-home tips for National Obesity Awareness Week for fitness professionals when it comes to working with obese clients. She says, “Understanding what is important to someone, their motivation, their why, is really key to helping them begin to make changes to their habits, lifestyle and internal thoughts, which in turn will lead to increased confidence, weight loss and a healthier, happier way of living.

She continues, “As well as understanding motivation, it’s really important to understand a person’s fears, limits and excuses, and to help them find solutions to the problems that work with their lifestyle and are small enough to action. Without removing the barriers and fears, any long-term change can be limited. I would start by identifying one internal thought to change, one movement and one nutrition change, getting clients to record these areas simply for the first week and then adding three more changes. I would make sure their support system with their family and friends is positive and on board with their goals too, as this really will help. Ultimately, long-term weight loss and lifestyle changes do take time, yet the long-term benefits and happiness gained from it are invaluable.”

What are you doing to help your clients combat obesity? Tweet us @Fitpro_online to let us know.

Coming soon … Learn how to help your clients with their body confidence – and also how to deal with instructor burnout – in Kim Ingleby’s informative podcasts, exclusively recorded for FitPro. If you’re a member and not already receiving our newsletter – which is changing to a weekly item with a fresh podcast EVERY week! – make sure your contact details are up to date by logging in to … you don’t want to miss our weekly podcasts!