‘Foodwise for Life’ is an eight week structured programme which utilises evidence based approaches to weight management. Written by Public Health Dietitians in Wales (PHDiW) the programme is designed to be delivered by a range of community based staff and contributes towards activity at Levels 1 and 2 of the Welsh Government ‘All Wales Obesity Pathway’. It will particularly benefit individuals with a Body Mass Index > 25kg/m2. It is not intended to replace structured education/care provided by health professionals for those with specific medical conditions such as diabetes.
‘Foodwise for Life’ is part of a wider programme, NUTRITION SKILLS FOR LIFETM, which aims to train and develop the nutrition skills of a wide range of community workers, build on existing local partnerships, and maximise workforce capacity to deliver quality assured healthy eating advice in community settings.
Topics focus on adapting eating habits, increasing physical activity and using basic behaviour change strategies to facilitate weight loss. Each session consists of structured discussions, hands on learning, group work and activities where participants can learn more about portion sizes, food labelling, daily exercise, recipe swaps and longer term plans for weight management. Group members are provided with a programme handbook and supporting literature from the Change4Life Campaign.
Completion of the Agored Cymru accredited Community Food and Nutrition Skills course (Level 2, 3 credits) and the ‘Facilitating Foodwise’ module is an essential requirement for tutors to be able to deliver the ‘Foodwise for Life’ programme.
Once trained, staff can access the learning and teaching resources from their local dietetic department. This includes a manual for facilitators and a participant handbook. These resources will ensure the programme is delivered to a consistent standard across Wales.
‘Foodwise for Life’ is accredited by Agored Cymru (Level 1, 2 credits) and tutors intending to offer participants the option to gain credit for learning must also complete the Agored Cymru Introduction to Assessment training.
The Results Based Accountability approach will be used to monitor the programme impact and a standard evaluation framework has been developed by Public Health Dietitians in Wales to gather measurable data to demonstrate programme performance.
Initial evaluation from the Wrexham pilot programme demonstrated all participants attending the Foodwise for Life programme achieved weight loss, except one who stabilised their weight. Of those group members who opted to be weighed, almost half achieved above 3% weight loss. Four group members lost more than 5% of their initial body weight; a statistic that is widely recognised to bring positive health outcomes. Clients were invited to follow up sessions at 3 and 12 month intervals, with month 12 data indicating half the group continued to lose or maintain weight as a result of attending the programme. Feedback suggests participants had made changes to their eating and exercise habits too, stating:
“It’s given me the incentive to keep fit, exercise, eat healthily and look after myself” and “fantastic course, made some changes which have proved to be very successful”.
The ‘Foodwise for Life’ programme provides an opportunity to forge partnership links with community groups and offer local residents information and support towards achieving a healthy weight. It enables community groups to work together to make lifestyle changes. Follow up sessions can also be provided, in line with best practice guidance, to support long term lifestyle change and promote local healthy eating / exercise initiatives.
Central Wrexham (Communities First) Foodwise for Life group.
To find out more about 'Foodwise for Life' programmes running in each health board area in Wales please contact the following Registered Dietitians.
‘Foodwise for Life’ is part of the wider programme, Nutrition Skills for Life™, which aims to train and develop the nutrition skills of a wide range of community workers, build on existing local partnerships, and maximise workforce capacity to deliver quality assured healthy eating advice in community settings.
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