OBESE people will be given a helping hand to lose weight following the launch of a new service in the county, which may help reduce the annual £340 million cost to the NHS in Hampshire of managing weight related conditions.

Weight Watchers has been commissioned by Hampshire County Council to support adults over the age of 18 who want to lose weight and have been identified as obese.

From October 1, people can self-refer to the service or be referred by health professionals such as their GP or practice nurse, and will be offered a free tailored service by Weight Watchers which includes digital and group support for 12 weeks.

It is hoped that by taking up this service, individuals will lose at least five per cent of their initial body weight, which will have a significant impact on their current and future health.

A separate service for pregnant women, to encourage healthy eating and physical activity throughout their pregnancy, also commenced on October 1.

Jo Measures, head of health at Weight Watchers, said: "We are incredibly pleased to be working with Hampshire County Council's public health team to offer this service to Hampshire residents.

"Weight Watchers has a proven track record of providing weight management plans that have tangible results for those who use our services, plans which can be incorporated into an individual's lifestyle in a sustainable way. Our flexible and balanced approach to weight management has helped millions of people find their way to a healthy and happier life."

Councillor Patricia Stallard, Hampshire County Council's executive member for health and public health, said: "Almost seven in 10 of Hampshire's adults are overweight or obese and the cost to the NHS in Hampshire of managing diseases related to excess weight and obesity is estimated at almost £340 million per year.

"Therefore I am delighted this new service provided by Weight Watchers is being launched in line with our Healthy Weights Strategy, and support residents across the county, especially those most at risk of ill health, and provide them with the advice they need."

For more information visit weightwatchers.com/uk/what-we-offer/healthcare.