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A new year, a new them - Brighton women's inspirational weight loss
Four women who lost almost 20 stone between them are setting up their own pound-shedding class in the New Year.
The quartet says the weight loss has allowed them to have a baby, help their daughter lose weight and dramatically assist in their severe post-natal depression.
Gail Branch, 42, from Hove, Sarah Rabbetts, 30, from Portslade, Hannah Beattie, 36, from Brighton, and Beverley Fenn, 48, from Dyke Road Avenue, Brighton, will be providing inspiration and advice for the Slimming World group in Brighton, Hove and Portslade.
Experts believe more than a quarter of all adults in the county will be seriously overweight by 2014 if they don't change their lifestyles.
It is the second biggest preventable cause of death in the country, behind smoking.
It is also expensive – obesity is expected to cost the county more than £460m per year by 2015, with Brighton and Hove alone going up from £78.1m to £83.5m.
Latest figures also show around one in six ten and 11-year- olds in Brighton and Hove are obese, although the number of overweight and obese Reception class pupils is falling.
Gail Branch had been struggling with her weight for years but when she wanted to have a baby she decided to focus her efforts.
With help from her weight loss advisor, she ended up losing a massive six stone and has never looked back.
Mrs Branch, whose daughter Honey is now two-and-a-half, said she felt like a new woman since shedding the weight.
She said: “I suffer from asthma and ulcerative colitis but I have not been experiencing any problems since the weight came off.
“I'm running around after a toddler and full of energy. It is like taking a youth pill.
“I'm lighter now than when I was 21 and it feels great.” She said she had received poor nutritional advice over the years and kept trying crash diets which didn't work.
She added: “The only real way to do it is through healthy living and eating and changing your lifestyles.”
Ms Rabbetts regrets not making sure she lost weight before falling pregnant.
She said: “The last month was stressful with high blood pressure and breathing problems.
“It really did have an impact.
“I had problems with my weight previously and joined a club but I gave it up partly because I was thinking about having a baby.
“I ended up putting on a lot of weight before I got pregnant and then that led to problems later on.
“I started to work on losing weight after Caden was born in July and since then I've lost four stone.
“I feel so much better and I'm definitely a lot more active.”
Ms Beattie found losing weight helped her cope with her severe post-natal depression.
She said: “There were complications during the pregnancy of my first child and it seems the shock of nearly losing her helped trigger the depression.
“After she was born I was really struggling and could not understand why everyone else seemed to be able to cope apart from me.
“When I went to Slimming World, I felt that |at last this was something I had some control over .”
Since then she has gone from strength to strength, volunteering to help out with the Samaritans, who supported her when she needed it. She has also run the Brighton Marathon to support the charity.
For more details about groups, call 07919 531356 or visit www.slimming world.com.