FREE keep-fit and healthy eating classes are being provided for people who are obese.

East Sussex County Council is investing £200,000 on specialist weight-management services across the county.

These include clinics in Lewes, Peacehaven, Newhaven, Eastbourne and Hailsham which are specifically targeted at people who are obese.

The 12-week sessions, called re:balance East Sussex, are designed to change people’s behaviours around eating and exercise.

Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above and who have an East Sussex postcode are eligible to take part.

People are considered obese if they have a BMI of 30. Up to 39.9 means they are considered obese and, above that, it means they are severely obese, according to the NHS. The scheme will also be open to families of children who are severely overweight.

The programme is being led by Freedom Leisure in partnership with Wave Leisure and exercise referral companies Zest People and Refer All.

It is due to be extended to other parts of the county in the future, particularly where evidence illustrates that levels of excess weight and obesity are high.

It is hoped that helping individuals to shed the pounds while showing them how to keep to a healthy weight, through exercise and healthy eating, will help them avoid potential health problems in the future.

Obesity is expected to cost the NHS in Sussex as a whole about £460 million by next year in terms of dealing with diabetes, heart disease and other conditions linked to the problem.

However, the actual cost to the economy could be even higher as obesity can affect a person’s ability to work and their underlying mental health.

Weekly sessions will be run in small supportive groups.

The first hour comprises a group session covering a wide range of topics, self-assessment exercises, activities and skills development exercises.

This is followed by a group exercise session. Participants choose their own weight-loss goal and implement their own personalised approach to losing weight and keeping it off.

Richard Bagwell, leading the scheme on behalf of Freedom Leisure, said: “With 65% of adults and 29% of young people living in East Sussex deemed as overweight or obese, re:balance will make an importance difference by helping hundreds of people towards long-term sustainable weight loss.

“re:balance will make weight management more accessible for the whole community.

“The courses are designed to offer all the support you need to achieve long-term sustainable weight loss.”

For more details on the courses, visit