Physical Health

Why you should join the Healthy Weight for Life program

For people with osteoarthritis, losing weight can turn around your health. Here’s how the Healthy Weight For Life program can make that happen.

There’s little doubt maintaining a healthy weight can do a world of good for your health and future risk of illness. But if you’re carrying additional kilos, have a medical condition or are at risk of developing one, the road ahead can feel overwhelming. You might know what you should do, in theory, but how do you pull it all together and hold yourself accountable?

You might not know that eligible HCF members* have access to an evidence-based weight management program – Healthy Weight for Life – specifically designed for members with a BMI over 28, living with osteoarthritis. You may also access a Healthy Weight for Life prevention program to help you establish healthy habits and delay the development of various chronic conditions.

The weight loss plan aims to help you lose weight, quickly but safely, on a diet plan lasting 18 weeks. The plan uses a mix of meal replacement shakes that help you feel satisfied, recipes for healthy meals, combined with a gradually progressing exercise plan. Support over the phone, SMS and email is provided by qualified allied health professionals every step of the way to help you through your journey to better health.

As the weeks go by, you eat less processed foods, cut back on extra calories and rely less on the shakes, so by the end of the plan, the aim is that you should have lost a healthy amount of weight and learned how to eat and exercise in a way that helps keep the weight off.

Using shakes might sound a bit controversial, “and it’s true that diets like this used to have a bad reputation as they weren’t nutritionally balanced, but that has now changed and they are proving a very successful way to lose weight quickly”, says Professor Amanda Salis from the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders at The University of Sydney. “And it was also believed that if you lost weight fast, you’d regain it just as quickly. But if you change your habits, there’s no proof that this is the case.”

How weight loss can be the best thing for osteoarthritis

Excess weight is the number-one preventable risk factor for osteoarthritis, which is why it’s also part of Healthy Weight for Life.

Osteoarthritis is when inflammation causes pain and stiffness in the joints, “but losing weight reduces inflammation and can also take pressure off the joints,” says rheumatologist Dr John Van Der Kallen from the Arthritis Centre in Georgetown, NSW.

To help with this condition, weight loss of at least 5% is suggested, but the more you lose the better. “Losing 10% of body weight reduces pain by about 25% and also slows down progression of the problem, which could mean avoiding surgery in the future,” says Dr Van Der Kallen.

Words by Helen Foster
Updated November 2021

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*If you’re overweight and living with osteoarthritis — or are at risk of developing a chronic condition – and have held eligible HCF hospital cover for 12 months, you may be eligible for a free Healthy Weight for Life program, including healthy eating and exercise plans and coaching. Other terms and conditions apply. See our Healthy Weight for Life page or call the Healthy Weight for Life team at 1800 226 180.