TRANSFORMING the lives of Swindon people and improving their eating habits in small steps was health experts’ mission as they embarked on a week-long Healthy Weight Awareness campaign yesterday.

Swindon Council’s health improvement team launched the initiative at Penhill Library where they spent the morning answering questions, promoting weight-loss, exercise programmes and better nutritional choices.

While many visitors discovered easy ways to swap high-calorie snacks with tasty fruitbread, others hopped on a bike and powered a food processor to blend smoothies.

Several took advantage of the free health checks available on the day, and had their blood sugar level, blood pressure and cholesterol tested.

“Although obesity in children is not going up it has stopped and is not going down,” said Fiona Dickens, public health programme manager at Swindon Council.

“Obesity in adults is higher because of the town demographic.

“We want people to think about what changes they can make to manage their weight and be healthier; changes that they can keep up.

“The issue with losing weight is that people follow a diet, lose it and put it back on.

“Diets do work because people are eating less. But if they don’t change their lifestyle, the weight will go back on.”

Nathan Pithers, 27, of Penhill, was pleasantly surprised with the healthy snacks on offer at the library, which included mackerel, cream cheese and watercress sandwiches and banana pieces spread on fruitbread.

“Usually if I have fruitbread, I have it with butter,” he said. “It makes you think about what you eat. Next time I come to the Penhill cafe I might have toast instead of a full breakfast.”

Rose Daniels, 46, from Penhill, said: “I will think more about reading labels on food.

“At the moment I don’t think about my health or what I eat. I don’t even know how much I weigh but I know I need to get healthy.”

The team runs a number of initiatives such as Dietbusters, a 12-week programme for overweight or obese people, and MEND, a scheme aimed at children above healthy weight and their families.

For more information about the programmes offered by Swindon’s health improvement team, call 01793 465413 or visit