The male ‘pioneers’ transforming their lives with Slimming World

Before and after: Roger Dunnett.
Picture: Slimming World

Before and after: Roger Dunnett. Picture: Slimming World - Credit: Archant

Between them, Roger Dunnett, Ian Lower and Ian Knights have lost an incredible 14st.

Before and after: Ian Lower.
Picture: Slimming World

Before and after: Ian Lower. Picture: Slimming World - Credit: Archant

The weight loss has transformed their health and their lives but what they have achieved, and the way they achieved it, puts them among a group of men who could be thought of as pioneers.

Weight worries may be more often associated with women than men but, according to weight loss organisation Slimming World, the latest data shows around one in four men are classed as obese.

But despite being more likely to be overweight and more likely to carry dangerous excess fat around the waist, men make up only one in 10 patients attending commercial weight management programmes through NHS referral.

That’s a situation Slimming World’s Sarah Pearsons is keen to change.

Before and after: Ian Knights.
Picture: Slimming World

Before and after: Ian Knights. Picture: Slimming World - Credit: Archant

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She points to a report published in recent weeks that says British men are now the heaviest in Europe, with the average man weighing more than 13st at a height of 5ft 10in, as evidence of the scale of the problem. The report, compiled using government figures, suggests only American and Australian men have a higher average weight.

Obesity rates among men in Suffolk more than doubled between 1993 and 2015 and in Ipswich alone, 60.6% of the population are overweight or obese, rising to 65.3% in Suffolk Coastal and 70.5% in Mid Suffolk. In Norfolk, almost two thirds (65.7%) of the adult population are overweight or obese while in Essex, it’s 66.5%.

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“This is an issue that is having a massive impact on the lives and health of men in our community,” says Sarah, Slimming World consultant and team developer in East Ipswich and Felixstowe. “Increasing numbers of adults are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and being put on medication for high blood pressure.

“In 2016 Slimming World published its ‘Machobesity’ report, which found that overweight men see dealing with things by themselves and not asking for help as ‘masculine’ and worrying about weight as ‘feminine’. It was therefore no surprise that men told Slimming World they thought joining a slimming club was ‘feminine’.

“However we know that those men who have the courage to join a Slimming World group flourish, typically losing 5.7% of their body weight in the first 12 weeks compared to women losing 4.3%. Men are still hugely in the minority in our groups but we have a growing number of success stories among our male members.”

Here are a few of them....

Ian Knights, 42, Ipswich

Start weight: 18 stone 12

Current weight: 13 stone

In 2009, aged 33, Ian was regularly suffering severe headaches. After passing out at home and being rushed to hospital he was told he was at high risk of having a stroke or heart attack and given medication for high blood pressure, asthma and chronic back pain. Ian lost weight by cutting out junk food and alcohol but his weight ‘yo-yoed’ and by 2014, at 16st, Ian decided to join his local Slimming World group. He is now 13 stone, no longer requires blood pressure medication or suffers from asthma or back pain. He enjoys making ‘fakeaway’ meals and not having to miss out on burgers, chips and curries - simply by making them at home with a few changes. He says: “Slimming World has changed my life. We all support each other, the groups are amazing and I love that I’ve made some friends for life.”

Roger Dunnett, 69, Ipswich

Start weight: 20st 11.5

Current weight: 14st 13

Roger snored very loudly, kept falling asleep on the sofa, couldn’t be woken and was eventually diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea.. He said: “I had to sleep in hospital whilst being monitored. Apparently I stopped breathing 117 times over seven-hour period because excess weight on my chest and neck restricted my breathing.” Roger needed something called a CPAP ventilator to keep him breathing while he slept, had to notify the DVLA of his condition and was told he may have to stop driving. In addition, he had knee problems and was told that unless he lost weight he could end up in a wheelchair. He turned his life around after joining Slimming World and now no longer needs a ventilator to sleep, has kept his driving licence and his mobility.

Ian Lower, 58, Ipswich

Start weight: 14 stone 6

Current weight: 12 stone 8

Ian suffers from high cholesterol, gout, diverticulitis and for most of his adult life has been medication for acid reflux. He joined Slimming World in January 2017 when his daughter (who just happens to be Sarah) became a consultant. Ian says: “I thought I ate healthily but hadn’t realised the sugar content in many of the jars and packets we used regularly.” Since losing weight Ian has seen an health improvements in direct relation to his weight loss and has significantly reduced his acid reflux medication. Ian says more and more men are joining the group he attends and believes the camaraderie and support have made this lifestyle change possible. He is more active now too and says this has made his passion for scuba diving - and running round after his grandchildren - easier to indulge.

n To find your local Slimming World Group go to or call 0344 897 8000.

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