The woman who was too fat for slimming class: Grandmother's anger as NHS tells her she need to lose weight to join diet scheme
Belinda Clayton applied to weight-loss scheme through her GP but was told she was too heavy to take partLocal PCT said initiative was a pilot scheme and they had restricted entry to those with a BMI of 30 to 35 – Mrs Clayton's measurement was 35.07Mrs Clayton described the decision to exclude her as 'bonkers'She will now pay for Slimming World sessions instead
15:18 GMT, 1 October 2012
Determined: Belinda Clayton from Binchester, wanted to join the 'weigh-less scheme' after it was recommended by a friend
A grandmother-of-two has spoken of her outrage after she was turned down by an NHS weight loss programme because she was ‘too fat’.
Belinda Clayton, weighs 16 stones and wears a size 20. She tried to apply for a weight-loss scheme through her GP but was stunned to be told it was only for the 'moderately overweight.'
The 61-year-old, who suffers fatigue due to M.E, described her rejection from the scheme like a ‘slap in the face with a fish.’
Mrs Clayton from, Binchester, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, said: 'I was told about ‘Change 4 Life’ by a friend about a month ago. She said that she loved it and it was so successful.
'I went to my GP in Bishop Auckland and we filled in the form and weighed me and he faxed it through and said they would be in touch.
'They rang me up and initially the lady from ‘Change 4 Life’ was quite chatty and encouraging.
'Then she said that my BMI is too high. She said they only offered the scheme for people with a BMI between 30-35 that mine was too high.
'I said ‘so that means I’m too fat for your scheme’ She kept trying to get me to do an exercise scheme, but in the end I said ‘you can’t help me’ and she said ‘no we can’t.'
To add insult to injury, Belinda found out her BMI, according to the NHS website, is 35.07 – which meant she was only just outside the limit for help.
Belinda was not told her BMI, but learned afterwards that it was just outside the limit for help.
She said: 'The lady did say it was a very close, but 35.07 sounds pretty incredible, especially given that I have long standing health issues.
'It’s getting so silly now that it’s almost making me laugh. But it’s so frustrating, at the end of the day it was a scheme that I really wanted to be a part of.
'I still think it’s a good scheme. This is ludicrous though, it’s absolutely bonkers.
'It’s some criteria that’s been fixed so firmly, it’s just red tape. The girl I spoke to was so rigid it was like talking to a brick wall.'
The 12-week course, Mrs Clayton wanted to join includes group sessions with advice on subjects from diet to activity and changing old behaviours.
It is part of the local PCT's contribution to the Change 4 Life programme organised by the Department of Health.
Brenda, a mother-of-three was a healthy nine stone and a size twelve when she was younger.
However she was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid in her early 40s and little by little the weight began to creep on.
The weigh-less scheme is part of the Government's Change 4 Life initiative. However, it is only available to those with a BMI of 30-35
Brenda, a retired social worker, said: 'I was very fit and we had horses and things so I was on the go all the time.
'Then when I got to my 40s I came down with an over-active thyroid. I started gaining weight in my early 40s.
'I’ve never eaten to excess, if I had eaten what I wanted to I would be the size of a house.
'I don’t eat vast quantities of takeaways or anything like that, I have Weetabix and berries for breakfast and quite often salmon and salad for dinner.
'Everybody has indulgences, my weakness is ice cream but I just don’t buy it anymore, if it’s not in the house I can’t eat it.
'I stopped smoking seven years ago and that didn’t help with my weight either.'
In 2001, after suffering a bout of pancreatitis and undergoing a gall bladder operation, Belinda was diagnosed with ME.
She said: 'I fell ill with flu in January 2000, and I just never recovered. I was really quite ill for a year, I went to hospital and ended up with pancreatitis.
'It wasn’t until 2001 that I was diagnosed with ME. It’s like being a car that’s run out of petrol – everything just grinds to a halt.
'But I’ve learnt to live with it now, if I feel myself getting tired I know when to pull back.
'I’ve been trying to lose weight quietly for years – but with my ME it’s hard to do strenuous exercise.
Mrs Clayton says she struggles with her weight as she also has M.E, which can cause periods of fatigue. However, she tries to eat as healthily as possible
'I can only do gently exercise, I walk my dog and swim twice a week. Life can be difficult, I do think to some minor extent that I comfort eat.
'If I have a really bad day with the ME I tend to get a sweet tooth and I’ll eat something like bread and jam when perhaps I shouldn’t.'
When she heard of ‘Change 4 Life,’ Belinda, who also suffers from a vitamin D deficiency, thought she had found the answer to her problems.
She said: 'I’m dyslexic and I didn’t want to have to count points or anything like that.
'I was enthusiastic about ‘Change 4 Life,’ I had built myself up to do it, I was enthusiastic about it, it felt like something I could do.'
But after being turned away from the NHS programme Belinda now feels let down and disappointed.
Feeling excluded: Mrs Clayton said not allowing her to join the group was 'bonkers'
She said: 'At the time I was quite cross, it’s bloody ridiculous, it’s meant to be a scheme to help overweight people but it’s only for thin people.
'I felt quite let down by the NHS, what a bloody stupid scheme. It’s nonsense.
'In a way it’s quite funny, it’s just so silly, but on another level it’s very annoying.
'I thought if I could lose 2 stone then I could get down a dress size and feel better, but now I feel like I’ve been slapped across the face with a herring.'
Belinda is now planning to try out Slimming World to lose some weight.
A spokesman for NHS County Durham and Darlington PCT said: 'The Primary Care
Trust’s Weigh Less Scheme is a pilot scheme and has very clear inclusion and exclusion criteria, which is well documented in professional guidance and patient leaflets.
'This is to ensure that the service offers support to the most appropriate people who would like to lose weight and become more active and we would be delighted to support anyone who wishes to set themselves lifestyle goals through the Health Trainer service.
'Services available include a free County Durham Health Trainer service, free four-week Cook4Life courses to support healthy eating behaviours, a GP Exercise on Referral Service that offers structured and supervised support to people to become more active, Get Active Get Cycling activities, Swimming, Walking for Health and much more.'