The University of Bedfordshire and Thrive Tribe are researching how technology can aid weight management programmes for individuals.
Thrive Tribe – an independent provider of healthy lifestyle services – has partnered with specialist healthcare academics from the University to survey existing and former users of their weight management programmes, to enable the company to create tailored programmes to suit unique user needs.
Obesity is recognised as a public health priority, with nearly two-thirds of adults in England being overweight or obese, and over 876,000 admissions to NHS hospitals where obesity was recorded as a primary or secondary diagnosis in 2018/19.
Two academics from Bedfordshire’s Institute for Health Research (IHR) are working closely with Thrive Tribe to ensure the organisation can continue to support people who would benefit from participating in weight management programmes, particularly in the context of this challenging and uncertain time of the pandemic.
Dr Yannis Pappas, Reader in Health Service Delivery and Organisation and Head of the IHR PhD School, and Gurch Randhawa, Professor of Diversity in Public Health and Director of IHR, aim to use the survey data to inform how they can tailor and offer services to best support those who would benefit from participating in weight management programmes during the pandemic and beyond.
Dr Pappas explains: “The COVID-19 pandemic is an on-going public health challenge and for as long as we don’t have a permanent or semi-permanent solution for it, enabling local communities to protect themselves is of paramount importance.
“We know that obese people, in addition to other co-morbidities, have double the risk than those who are of healthy weight of dying from COVID-19.
“We also know that, during the pandemic, several local government programmes that promote healthy living and weight management are not attended as expected.
“These circumstances raise several public health concerns, and also questions about what we can do to support those who do not join or drop out of these programmes.
“It is important that we form an understanding of the current priorities, motivations and needs of the public so that we address them accordingly.”
The latest Public Health England strategy 2020-2025 highlights the need to ‘utilise technology to develop targeted advice and interventions and support personalised public health and care at scale’.
The research findings will enable Thrive Tribe and other providers around the country to offer weight management interventions tailored to the specific needs, motivations and priorities of the population during and beyond COVID-19 pandemic.
Jackie Williams, Head of Quality and Clinical Governance at Thrive Tribe, added: “Understanding how we can best support our clients during this challenging time of a pandemic is more important than ever; working with the team at the University of Bedfordshire means we will be able to share our learning of what matters most to clients during these times, in a scientifically validated way, so that other organisations can enhance people's experience from this too.”
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