Weigh To Go for teenage health

What: A weight management programme for 16-18 year olds

Who: Julie Gordon – Health Improvement Lead and Coordinator, Youth Health Services


Kate Dods – Youth Health Service Nurse

Ryan Hughes – Business Support Assistant


Qualified in 1984 with a B.Sc. in Nursing from Dundee, quickly moving into Primary Care and community Nursing, gaining a Diploma in District Nursing (Glasgow) in 1989, followed by a post in Practice Nursing for an inner city GP practice. Thereafter, she gained her family planning qualification (1991) and worked in the area of sexual health with a particular interest in young people, ultimately securing the position of Lead Nurse for young people at the Sandyford Initiative, Glasgow. In 2000, following an arts based consultation with local young people, in her role of Clinical Youth Co-Ordinator, Julie set up the first holistic service for young people aged 12-19 years of age, in the Maryhill area of Glasgow. The aim of which was to respond to complex issues using a “one stop shop” approach.

Julie Gordon has presented at the Approaches Conference (Glasgow 1995); Association for Young People’s Health (London 2008) and the World Health Organisation (Edinburgh 2009). Julie Gordon has also been a guest Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University for a period of five years.
With the creation of Community Health Care Partnerships in Glasgow, Julie Gordon became the Lead for Youth Health, both clinically in delivery of Youth Health Services (YHS) but also from a Health Improvement perspective throughout various organisational changes, within North West of the City. There are currently three YHS in this area, targeting areas of greatest need, offering the same holistic approach. In her current role, her focus is on addressing the inequalities of health for young people living in the North West Locality of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership.

Approach: Prevention

Location: Glasgow City Community Health Partnership (CHP) – North West Sector

Speciality: Health improvement

What is the initiative and or project you are involved in?

Weigh to Go is a weight loss service for young people in some of Glasgow’s most deprived neighborhoods. Funded by the British Heart Foundation Scotland as part of its Hearty Lives programme, the service is managed by the Glasgow City CHP’s North West Youth Health Service. In light of the current obesity epidemic, this pilot project is designed to support young people aged 16-18 years of age , who have a BMI of over 25, to lose weight and consequently reduce their cardiovascular risk. Young people are provided with regular support from Youth Health Service staff, and free access to commercial weight management and leisure services. The longer term aim, is to contribute to the evidence base about successful interventions which address the issue of obesity.

What prompted the work?

People living in the poorest areas of the country are, on average, more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than people living in the richest.

The British Heart Foundation have funded a number of localized initiatives ( Heart Lives projects) in communities at greatest risk of heart disease and stroke to tackle these health inequalities.

  • according to official figures for Scotland, between 1995 and 2012, the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who were overweight or obese increased from 52.4% to 61.9%
  • young people who are obese are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • there is a lack of evidence on the most effective obesity intervention programmes for young people
  • a gap in NHS service provision for young people who are overweight or obese
  • the British Heart Foundation offers funding for projects that aim to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for children and young people across the UK
  • this programme aims to address inequalities in health by targeting the most deprived areas of Glasgow; ranked as ‘SIMD 1’ on The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

How did you initiate the work?

The business plan and marketing materials were developed and influenced after extensive consultation with young people, using online surveys and focus groups.

One of the challenges was to recruit and retain young people from this age group. Following a health assessment, the young people are supported by local Youth Health Services for up to 24 weeks. Benefits included:

  • regular contact with nurses from the Youth Health Service, face-to-face and by phone, to check on progress and offer advice and help
  • free access to weight loss classes from commercial weight management services
  • free access to local leisure services and additional support from Gym staff.

Measures of success include:

  • weight loss; weights recorded by commercial weight management services, on a weekly basis
  • participation in physical activity; attendance figures are provided by leisure services
  • levels of motivation and confidence; measured using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965)
  • behavioural change; measured using research-based questions to identify behaviour modification.

What difference has the project or initiative made?

Out of the 75 participants who were recruited from across Glasgow:

  • 78% achieved weight loss, between week 0 and 12
  • 55% achieved a 3% target weight loss.

As shown in Figure 2, participants reported that, on average, they were eating significantly more portions of fruit and vegetables.

What are the long term aims for the work?

The long term aim of the work is to contribute to the evidence base on models which work in terms of supporting young people to lose weight and impact on cardiovascular risk. The team are currently in the process of extending the project to a lower age group, with the help of additional funding from the NHS.

The Weigh To Go project has been nominated for a number of awards and were successful in winning the Heart Lives Impact Award in 2015.