Shock fat-shaming statistic: more must be done to understand human cost of obesity

Hoop UK Lesley McCormackTwo years on from an article in the British Journal of Obesity which uncovered the devastating ‘human cost’ of failing to act on obesity, is primary care still failing the majority of our obese community asks HOOP UK’s CEO Lesley McCormack.

Published in Spring 2015, The human cost of failing to address obesity highlighted vast evidence to show the patient impact of a treatment black hole, including HOOP UK’s 2014 report Tackling Obesity: All Talk, No Action. The article called for urgent action ‘to begin tackling the condition in primary care’ yet year on year reports by HOOP (2015 and 2016) has clearly demonstrated that treatment provision remains patchy and far from adequate.

“Not a day goes by without members contacting us after hitting a brick wall when asking their GP for help,” says Lesley. “We know that most primary care professionals are empathetic but many still have few resources to help or lack enough understanding of how obesity impacts all aspects of an obese person’s life to provide an informed treatment plan.”

According to Lesley, some of the charity’s now 10,000 strong membership feel let down in an even more alarming way. She explains: “Shockingly, in a straw poll conducted with members this week on the issue of bullying, more than half of respondents said they had experienced ‘fat-shaming’ by health professionals, which ranked third below strangers in public places and family members. We put our trust in doctors and nurses when we are feeling most vulnerable so the damage caused by such experiences is not only huge but wholly unacceptable.

“At HOOP, we not only provide a safe place for anyone struggling with obesity to seek advice and support but we are also fighting hard to put an end to fat-shaming and bullying which have become far too commonplace and acceptable practices today. False perceptions that the obese person deserves to be the subject of stigmatisation or will feel shamed into taking action to lose weight are weighing our nation down. For most people, such attitudes are counterproductive and harmful.

“If we all stand against fat victimisation and stand by someone struggling with obesity, we will go a long way to making a real dent in the most overwhelming problem facing us today. This must and should start with primary care.”

HOOP UK is working with professionals across the health, social care, education, nutrition and fitness sectors to improve obesity awareness and eliminate both weight bias and discrimination.

Click here to read The human cost of failing to address obesity.

The British Journal of Obesity is the official journal of the National Obesity Forum (NOF) in association with the Obesity Management Association (OMA).


Type II diabetes – I was only 16, I didn’t think it was actually about me – Childrens Food Trust

One of HOOP UK’s priorities is to work with families to help children struggling with obesity. The daughter of one of our members, Hollie, now 18, has spoken to the Children’s Food Trust to tell her story as part of a campaign the charity is running in its mission to get every child in the UK eating well.

Commenting on the story which Children’s Food Trust published today, HOOP UK’s CEO Lesley McCormack said: “We are immensely proud of Hollie and how brave she has been to speak up about her struggle with childhood obesity and being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes at only 16 years of age.

“It’s stories like Hollie’s that help to break down the stigma surrounding obesity and the mentality of blaming parents which isn’t helpful. Offering non-judgmental guidance and support to parents and their children is how we are making real strides in understanding and tackling childhood obesity.

“Hollie was one of a few members who volunteered to speak to the Children’s Food Trust after we put a call out for people willing to help in the charity’s educational campaign. HOOP UK and the Children’s Food Trust have great synergy, so we were delighted to assist. We are also committed to working with them by continuing to share both the knowledge and experiences of all our members as well as experts working within HOOP to help children and parents across the UK.”

Check out Hollie’s story below.


Source: Type II diabetes – I was only 16, I didn’t think it was actually about me – Childrens Food Trust

5 places for 2 day TV & Film industry workshop

Foot in tfoot in the door films 2he Door Films CIC has offered HOOP UK places for five lucky members on a fabulous 2-day Education 2 Employment workshop designed for budding TV and Film actors and production crew.

The workshop, which will take place in foot in the door films 3April in Speke, Liverpool, provides a rare and life-changing opportunity to learn the ins and outs of how movies are made. Designed to improve confidence and self esteem along with the chance to meet like-minded people, the workshop covers the basic skills needed for a career in TV and Film production, job application skills, health & safety on a film set and an introduction to going self employed. It also provides help with sourcing work experience and jobs.

The places are sponsored by Santander and are for aged 16+ only.

Members should click here or follow the link below to the Foot in the Door website for more information and to register interest in one of the five places on offer. Deadline for applications is 31st March 2017.


Drastic weight-loss surgery should never be ‘normal’ says HOOP member speaking to Childrens Food Trust


Mell Handley, one of HOOP’s Facebook community group administrators.

One of HOOP UK’s volunteer administrators of our now 10,000+ strong Facebook community, Mell Handley has spoken to the Children’s Food Trust to tell her story as part of a campaign the charity is running in its mission to get every child in the UK eating well.

Commenting on the story which Children’s Food Trust published today, HOOP UK’s CEO Lesley McCormack said: “We are very proud of Mell and how brave she has been to speak up about her battle with food from childhood that eventually led to her undergoing weight loss surgery.


Mell today.


Mell before weight loss surgery.

“Mell was one of a few members who volunteered to speak to the Children’s Food Trust after we put a call out for people willing to help in the charity’s educational campaign. HOOP UK and the Children’s Food Trust have great synergy, so we were delighted to assist. We are also committed to working with them by continuing to share both the knowledge and experiences of all our members as well as experts working within HOOP to help children and parents across the UK.”

Check out Mell’s story below.

Source: Drastic weight-loss surgery should never be ‘normal’ – Childrens Food Trust

19 members succeed at January’s HOOP Bootcamp Weekend!

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HOOP members taking up the challenge of the HOOP Bootcamp Weekend, January 2017, with coaches Mark Flewitt and Heather Wynn

On January 24th, nineteen HOOP members made their way down to Thetford Forrest to take part in another awesome HOOP Bootcamp Weekend. These weekends are run by coach Mark Flewitt and myself, Heather J. Wynn, they run from Friday evening through until Sunday afternoon and are based at an activity centre deep in the forest grounds.

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HOOP Bootcamp Weekend, January 2017: members beat the zipwire!

Whilst many people say they are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones, it is rare that they are ever truly given the chance to do so, so throughout these HOOP Bootcamp weekends we aim to give people the opportunity to do just that. From zip wiring, canoeing, circuit training, early morning nature walks to clambering around on an obstacle course suspended over 30ft high trees, the challenges the campers face are not only physical, but mental and emotional too. However, the beauty is that you can take part in as much or as little as you wish to. There is nothing anyone must do, say or feel on these weekends, we hold no expectations for the campers other than coming along, enjoying being part of the HOOP team and giving things a go.

We often have tears – of fear, of joy and of accomplishment – but we balance it with laughter, so much laughter! One of the most amazing outcomes achieved through these camps are the many wonderful connections made between the camp members, most people know the other members of the group by name and social media profile picture only, but by Sunday evening it’s clear to see that life-long friendships have been made.

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HOOP Bootcamp, January 2017: fun exercise class with members

Alongside myself and Mark we also bring along our own resident chef, Brian Powlett, who spends his time in the kitchen cooking up feasts for us all. Brian prepares a menu in advance which gives people the option to choose from a selection of delicious home cooked meals. Brian also offers the opportunity for campers to learn more about food and cooking methods, this can present a great opportunity for those who get stuck for cooking ideas or who aren’t sure how to implement simple cooking changes at home.

I’ve mentioned the word ‘campers’ a few times here, but don’t get worried, there are no tents to be seen! We stay in a basic but very warm and comfortable accommodation block, the only catch being that you have to strip the sheets yourself at the end of the HOOP bootcamp weekend! There is tea and coffee on tap for that post tree-climb cuppa and communal areas to relax and chill in the evenings.

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HOOP Bootcamp, January 2017: early morning walks in Thetford Forrest

What often surprises people the most is just how much you get to know your fellow campers in such a short space of time. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone with activities like the ones we offer at these weekends, it’s near on impossible not to forge an element of trust with those around you supporting you at the time. The adrenaline is pulsing and this often gets released with powerful emotional surges that subsequently create a strong bond within the group.

As coaches, we find it incredible to see the clear transition in each person over the course of the weekends and, truly, that is why we created them! To not only provide opportunities to do things HOOP members may otherwise never get to do, but to also help every person who comes along to make a real dent in their self-limiting beliefs. Our overall aim is to lead each member from a mindset of ‘I can’t’ to being able to walk back to their lives truly believing, ‘I CAN.’

The next HOOP Bootcamp Week16736472_10212091378341145_1035492501_nend will be held on Friday 7th July – Sunday 9th July. Click here for more details. You can contact Mark Flewitt or Heather J. Wynn for more details.

“Hoop Camp was such a wonderful experience, it made me come alive again. There was such an array of wonderful activities that we could do and the support that was offered to each other was unbelievable.”


“I was lucky enough to attend the January camp and it has been totally life changing for me. It has helped me to develop my self-confidence and belief that I can achieve all of my goals and has given me some fabulous memories and lifelong friends. “


Obesity to GNR: run raises £1791 for HOOP

Just over a year ago, Andrea Whitinandrea-whiting-gnr-complete-picg was struggling with obesity, weighing over 30 stone and finding it difficult to walk. After deciding to turn her life around by eating healthily and exercising daily, she is now 14 stone lighter and recently ran the Great North Run (GNR) for UK charity HOOP, raising a fabulous £1,791.

Check out her BBC Interview

A member of HOOP since April 2015, 45 year old Andrea has written a blog post about her GNR experience:

It was an early start with the mandatory porridge and some fruit for breakfast at 7am and then headed off in a taxi to the start.  Expecting the traffic to be bad I arrived far too early. Despite this there was a buzz of anticipation and the whole size of the event was overwhelming with queues of double decker buses to take baggage from Newcastle to South Shields and hoards of happy people all ready to be part of the biggest and best half marathon in the UK.

Having regularly checked the weather forecast the week before I was convinced that my jumper would be needed, along with the best part of another 50,000 people who were also dressed for autumn. It became very clear, however, that perhaps the met office had got it slightly wrong.  The sun came out and the extra layers started coming off. Oxfam would collect the clothes so I didn’t feel quite so guilty leaving a jumper on a grass verge.

Time flew by and I made my way up to the pink pen. I was in the last pen due to my expected finish time, which is around 1 mile from the start line.  On the large screen in front, the elite runners were on there way. It took a further 50 minutes before I crossed the start line, just before Mo Farrah crossed the finish line.

And we were off…. I was told that the first two miles we would be walking due to the volume of people but this wasn’t true as we were running  as soon as we stepped over the line. I was running with 57,000 people all there for their own reason. All were running at their own pace but each soaking up the atmosphere and supporting each other.

After a short time, we were running under a fly over which was cooler but the echo of OGGY OGGY OGGY  OY OY OY will stay in my memory for a long time. I continued my run. Seeing the iconic bridge across the Tyne surrounded by fellow runners was amazing.

The sun continued to beat down. The water and lucozade stations were a welcome relief and the crowd started to play a bigger part in helping me run. My name was being called and helped me to keep going.

My watch was vibrating all morning relaying my mobile phone messages but all of a sudden my watch went into over drive with messages saying I’ve just been on the television, saying everyone’s crying and messages of love. I well up. Seemed incredible that I was on TV – how was that even possible?

I got near the 6 mile mark knowing that I need to look out for Denise Lewis who would interview me. I expected a couple of minutes of rest but instead I quickly found myself stood next to the beautiful Denise Lewis with a mike in front of me. I did the interview and within seconds was back running again. I can’t remember the questions I was asked. I just felt overwhelmed by the situation.

More messages started to come through, people donating to my just giving page purely because they have seen me on the TV. People inspired by me. I began to sob. I was truly overwhelmed. I started to realize what others have seen for a while. I have and was doing something quite amazing. I thought about my dad knowing that he would be proud of his bonkers daughter. Yes he should have been there to see me but I know he was and continues to be my driving force.

The heat was starting to get to me so had to start alternating running with walking. This wasn’t an issue as whether you are an elite or whether you walk it all, you are cheered on massively by the supporting crowd.

The crowds were amazing. There was not an inch of the course where there wasn’t someone cheering and encouraging people on.  The offers of sweets, biscuits, extra water, oranges, were overflowing.  The ice pops were the best I’ve ever tasted in my life!

I got to a great big shower ( imagine a car wash without the brushes) and run through it. The water was cold but incredibly refreshing, just what was required.

I saw the 9 mile marker, then the 10 mile marker, the 11 mile marker and then come the hill that I had been warned about. It’s a fair old hill when your legs are tired. Nothing at that stage would stop me. I dug deep looking at the costumes, talking to fellow runners, hi-5’ing the children. I then saw the sea in front of me – wow what a sight. I ran down the hill and just as I get round the corner, I heard my brother shout my name. Not knowing he was going to be there, I was elated. I ran over give him a huge hug and then started running the final mile.

I had heard the last mile would be the longest mile and I can honestly say it was. It was so tough!! I saw the 800 yards sign, then the 400 and finally the 200. I saw the finish but my legs were struggling to run. Just at the right time, I saw a camera, raised my arms and cheered through the finish line.

I was met with the biggest hug and I was elated. I’d run 13.1 miles and I’d run it quicker than I thought. I was on a huge high and had a great big smile across my face.

I know I had trained for the run. My personal  trainer Craig Ross had ensured that I did my training runs, conditioning and resisting training etc. I remember him saying 12 weeks before that he didn’t want me doubting whether I could run it on the day. He wanted me just to enjoy the whole experience. No amount of training could ever prepare me for the atmosphere or the sense of elation I felt at the end.

Running for HOOP was an honour. I have had so much support, encouragement, and the enthusiasm was amazing. The build up was incredible, before I even got to Newcastle I was on a high because of all the messages of support I received.

Being selected by the BBC was surreal, why would I be inspirational?  Why did they think that I was any different from anyone else? Despite not accepting the reason I was selected I decided that stepping out of my comfort zone was worth it if it would promote HOOP.

After watching the footage and hearing Gabby Roslin describe me as the ‘amazing Andrea Whiting’  and knowing I had run 13.1 miles little over a year from being nearly house bound, I have finally realized that yes I have done something special.

Running is incredibly tough and I can honestly say I hated it for at least 3 to 4 months. It was only the knowledge that I was running the Great North Run and running it for HOOP that kept me going. In the last couple of months I have started to enjoy running. It’s still hard and still takes a lot of internal arguments with myself to keep going. The sense of achievement at the end is huge.  So if you are thinking of starting running, go out slowly, build up slowly and just put one front of the other.

From 30st to running a half marathon for HOOP

Just over a year ago, Andrea Whiting weighed over 30 stone and struggled to walk, but after deciding to turn her life around through eating healthily and exercising daily, she is now 14 stone lighter and running the Great North Run (GNR) for UK charity HOOP.

A civil servant of Leeds, 45 year old Andrea says life was hard before her impressive weight loss: “I’ve struggled with my weight and self-esteem all my life. Shortly after my dad died, I realised that at an unhealthAndrea Whiting and Jessie Pavelkay 30st 8lb with very limited mobility, I was heading for a short and difficult future. So, in April 2015, I joined HOOP and received outside counselling for my self-esteem issues.  With the support of everyone at HOOP along with my family and friends, I embarked oAndrea Whiting picn a journey to change my lifestyle and improve my health. I chose to stop merely existing and started to embrace life.”

Andrea didn’t go on a diet but focussed on eating healthy meals and introducing exercise into her day.

She explains: “I had done diets all my life from childhood and although they worked in the short term they weren’t sustainable for me and I would quickly regain the weight and more. Instead, I started off by focussing on eating well and walking a bit.  The big turning point was when I went on a Bootcamp in June last year. It taught me that I could get moving despite my weight. I joined a gym and got a personal trainer.   At no time did I worry about the number on a scale and my goal wasn’t to be a certain weight or size. By saying yes to every opportunity, I have done some amazing things, have met some awesome people and I’m loving life. As a by-product, I’ve lost over 14 stone so far and yes I have jumped off things, I have run and soon will be running the “Great North Run”, a half marathon.”

With the help of her personal trainer, she started running in January this year and joined her local running club in April. She’s now training hard to prepare for the GNR on September 11th after finding out she was balloted to run.

“It was a friend who suggested I enter the GNR and I entered secretly hoping I wouldn’t get through!” admits Andrea. She continues: “I’m now glad I got through and to be running for HOOP, as there was always someone from the charity there to motivate and support me each day. It’ll be nice to pay it forward by helping to raise vitally needed funds to help other overweight and obese people change their life. It will be a huge challenge but run, walk or crawl I’m determined to do it.”

HOOP founder and director, Lesley McCormack says: “Whether you’re overweight or a healthy BMI, you can’t fail to be inspired by Andrea’s story. She’s inspiring so many of our members to believe they too can change their lifestyle, to lose weight and improve their health. We are delighted she chose to run the GNR to help raise funds for us and wish her every success.”

Andrea has already raised over £1,000 for HOOP, passing her target of £200.  Anyone wishing to support Andrea in her run can do so via her justgiving page.

Andrea’s final message is: “For everyone out there who thinks it’s too hard, or you’ve gone past the point of no return, you can do it. You can eat well and no matter your size, you can move and exercise. Take it day by day, believe in yourself and enjoy life.”

Wash-out action plan fails our 1 in 3 overweight kids

In response to the Government’s childhood obesity strategy published yesterday, the national obesity charity HOOP UK says it not only worryingly falls short of all expectations, it fails to deliver a cohesive plan to help one third of children who are already struggling with obesity.

A director and founder of HOOP, Lesley McCormack states on behalf of the UK wide charity:

“Whilst we welcome any and all steps to tackle the obesity crisis and improve our nation’s health, HOOP is greatly disappointed to read this poorly presented strategy.

“It should have included far wider anti-obesity measures as well as deliver on long over-due promises for investment in obesity support and treatment for children whose parents are understandably feeling let down by our Government today.

“The plan is essentially flawed and narrow as it focuses on food and activity yet ignores the mental health, social and economic reasons why children are overweight.

“To start, boosting funds for school sports from the sugar tax due to come into force from 2018 will not benefit children who need it now and need it most. Evidence shows the beneficiaries of school and coached sports is “sporty” rather than obese kids. It would seem more prudent to spend where it’s most needed by investing in specialist coaches and treatments that are able to support and treat alienated and hard to engage overweight children.

“Furthermore, leaving primary schools and parents to each deliver at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day is far too challenging. With schools already under huge curriculum and Ofsted pressure and over-stretched and under-funded specialist support to help parents, this approach is surely fated to fail.

“When you consider that the estimated annual cost of obesity is £27bn to the economy in both costs and lost revenue, higher than any other public health issue, obesity should be a Government priority. It costs the NHS £6.1bn per year and they invest around £36m. By comparison, investment in Type 2 diabetes is £2.2bn per annum to address NHS costs of £7.7bn. The disparity in investment is stark! It is time Government takes real and proper action to bridge this alarming cost vs investment gap or our NHS will be bankrupt and a third of our children die young.”

Established in 2012, HOOP UK acts as the voice of the obese person and raises funds to help children and adults who struggle daily with obesity. It also aims to break down the stigma surrounding obesity, which adds daily to the plight of those who are overweight or obese.

Challenge Groups prove a huge success!!

As a spin off to our Facebook support groups and to help boost vital funds for HOOP UK we set up a New Year Challenge group.  This was closely followed by a ‘Spring into Summer’ Challenge group.

Members of HOOP UK donated funds to join the group in return for expert help and advice on how to improve their diets, increase exercise and alter their mind set. They were challenged daily about how they view themselves and their relationship with food.

The funds raised by the challenge groups will allow HOOP to continue to invest in our members and achieve our vision and values.

Over the course of the two groups, both lasting 12 Weeks each, we have seen many truly incredible success stories.

Members have stepped out of their comfort zone and undertaken challenges they would never have dreamed of, all with the help of our resident lifestyle coaches Helen Hopping and Heather Jayne Wynn,  our Fitness coaches, Mark Flewitt and Leigh Alliss, and not forgetting Cherie Brine who walked everyone on virtual road trips around Europe and to every corner of the USA.  We are forever indebted to them for their time and their commitment.

During our latest challenge many attended a weekend Bootcamp, hosted by Mark Flewitt and Heather Jayne Wynn .

They helped our members reach new levels of awareness and understanding…….that they could do anything they wished if they just believed in themselves.

The weekend has left a lasting impression on those who attended and they are continuing their journey using the techniques and tactics they learned during this very informative and HOOP focussed weekend.


Some of the testimonials from our members:

SC: I have really enjoyed the challenge and have found the daily posts from everyone both inspirational and thought provoking. They have made me think about me and my own situation. I have been challenged to get my steps done every day and get in the pool and push myself. Thank you all for the chance to be in a safe, private place to find myself. Count me in for the next one. X

MN: Yes very helpful. Helped me to focus. Also helped that there was always someone there with tips and advice. Always someone to say” come on you can do it”. It also felt good to help others. Not just a one hour slot at a club.

SJC: Yep very helpful as HOOP is really my only source of support. It’s pushed me physically, emotionally and mentally. I will miss the support. Thank you for everyone who made it possible x

 CB: I’ve loved it, Helen’s posts have really helped me focus and I loved Leigh’s exercise videos. All the professionals involved have been amazing at supporting the members and the love and support shown by the members towards each other has been lovely to see.

SL: I have found it a great motivation, the road trip really encouraged me to walk and the daily posts and thoughts really made me think. I would like to say a massive thank you to all of those people who made it happen, you have all done a brilliant job, and I for one can’t wait for the next one!

SA: This challenge has been brilliant. The commitment from the whole team of people behind this is incredible, from the inspirational posts and daily challenges, exercise hints and tips and the continued support of all the amazing admin here. I know I have done things that I wouldn’t normally do just because of the challenge and that alone is worth it.

 CB: If anyone is in two minds about Bootcamp, please just do it. Since doing the July camp I’ve been like a changed person. Today I’ve had a great time in an adventure playground going up climbing walls and whizzing down slides, climbing trees and doing hill rolls with the children. Don’t sit on the side-lines, life is for living go give it go.

JE: Well I thought I had myself mostly figured out and together before going to Bootcamp….The talk, the friendship, the support kind of made me unravel but build back up a stronger more determined person and I am “enjoying the ride” instead of just doing it. Cannot stress enough how amazing the experience was x


We thank everyone who took part and helped make these groups and experiences a massive success. You are an inspiration!! If you are interested in joining our main Facebook Group please click the link below and send a request to join…….Our next Challenge group will be announced soon.