A Glangwili General Hospital worker whose weight soared to 18 stone, is urging NHS staff to prioritise their health in a bid to banish obesity in the medical sector.
Nic Davies, an assistant practitioner at the Carmarthen hospital, said healthcare professionals face a “far greater” risk of developing weight-related issues due to their tendency to prioritise the health of others over their own.
The 36-year-old, who is currently transforming his heath on S4C series FFIT Cymru, revealed that he gained three stone after starting at the hospital in 2002 which left him concerned about his health.
The father-of-two claimed that rather than opting for healthier meals, he would often choose the convenience of fast foods or takeaways after finishing a busy shift.
“I can’t totally blame my weight gain on working at the hospital. I have never made great choices when it came to my diet, but I do think that healthcare staff tend to focus more on looking after others and forget about themselves.
“It became so easy to just order a takeaway or get a microwave meal when you are tired after a busy shift. I suddenly started to gain the weight and I didn’t know what to do.”
And he is not alone. Figures from researchers at Edinburgh University show that one in four nurses in England are obese, which could put more pressure on the NHS and lead to staff shortages due to weight-related illnesses.
Initiatives such as banning sugar and unhealthy food choices from hospital canteens have been introduced in certain areas, while Hywel Dda University Health Board actively promotes the health and wellbeing of its staff as an integral part of its corporate objectives. Thanks to this it has achieved both gold and platinum accreditation for the Corporate Health Standard, the national mark of quality for health and wellbeing in the workplace.
However, when Mr Davies decided to start fighting fit, he chose a slightly unconventional method to shed the weight. For the past seven weeks, he has followed diet and exercise plans as one of the five participants in S4C’s health and fitness series, FFIT Cymru. The final episode of the series will be shown on Tuesday, 5 June, while the entire series can be watched again as a boxset, on demand, at s4c.cymru.
During the series the devoted dad has thrown himself into his fitness plan with the help of the programme’s dietitian, personal trainer, and psychologist, and has shed an impressive 35lbs so far.
Now with the show’s finale approaching, he is urging other NHS professionals to follow in his footsteps and overhaul their diet and fitness.
“Working in the NHS means that you are always thinking about other people before yourself, and that is how it should be. But when you stop thinking about yourself, it could leave you at a greater risk of suffering with issues such as weight gain, lack of exercise and obesity.
“Working in a stressful job, with busy shift patterns, means that when you get home you are often drained and it is just easier to grab any food, whether it is healthy or not.
“But as healthcare workers we also have a responsibility to promote a health body image, and I didn’t feel I was doing that when I weighed 18 stone.
“If I can make this huge change to my lifestyle anyone can! It isn’t always easy to change your eating and exercise habits, planning and preparation are key when it comes to cooking or fitting in a run between shifts. But it is definitely possible, and I feel so much better in myself now.
“I would encourage any NHS worker who is worried about their weight to take action, the plan I have followed is so easy to fit into your busy lifestyle and it has made such a difference to my life.”
To watch the finale of FFIT Cymru on S4C tune in on Tuesday at 8pm. English subtitles available. The FFIT Cymru series boxset is also available to watch again online via s4c.cymru, iPlayer and other platforms. To follow FFIT Cymru’s nutrition and exercise plans visit https://www.ffit.cymru/en/