NI consumers urged to ditch quick-fix and fad diets in 2016

Thursday 21 January, 2016. Northern Ireland consumers should ditch their New Year quick-fix or fad diets that over-promise dramatic results and instead focus on safe, sustainable weight loss and lifelong habits for health.

That’s the message today from safefood as they launch a free smartphone "weight-mate" app to help people to lose weight in a healthy way – and keep it off.

launch of weight-mate app in northern ireland

The launch of the "weight-mate" app comes as research indicates that 40% of Northern Ireland adults are trying to lose weight, with 68% saying they are watching what they eat and 50% increasing their levels of physical activity[i].

The research also indicates that over half of all women in Northern Ireland have made an attempt to lose weight. One in five local people have also tried a paid slimming club.  

Praising the launch of the new app, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride said:

The issue of overweight and obesity seems hardly out of the spotlight these days but we really must not forget how the associated long term health risks can drastically reduce an individual’s health and wellbeing. Overweight and obesity is not something which can be resolved by a single prescription, and we must acknowledge that tackling such a complex issue will require a number of interventions within a range of settings and using a variety of formats."

 “I am therefore delighted to support this new weight management app by safefood which I believe will help an individual to have more control, and potentially give them the opportunity to improve their own health and wellbeing. This app will especially appeal to people who use mobiles throughout their daily lives and can therefore be used when it is most convenient. In addition this app may particularly suit those who may not have the time available to attend alternative weight loss classes.”

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said: “When it comes to weight loss, the facts of the matter are that quick-fix, fad diets are unsustainable and ineffective and we know that they only leads to people 'yo-yo' dieting and regaining the weight they’ve lost or in some cases, even becoming heavier.

“Our free "weight-mate" app helps people to set goals, make realistic plans to eat better and exercise more and to monitor those, and we know from behaviour change studies that these techniques help people to stick with healthier habits for the long-term. Our app is aimed at the general adult population, not associated with any commercial product and developed by qualified nutritionists.

“Whatever your starting weight or weight loss goals, losing 5% to 10% of your total body weight and keeping it off will lead to definite improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars. For example, for a man who weighs 15 stone, a weight loss of 10% will be 1.5 stone, bringing his weight down to 13.5 stone. For a woman who weighs 11 stone, a 10% weight loss is more than a stone, at 15 pounds. It’s really good news that this relatively modest weight loss can decrease your risk factors for chronic diseases related to obesity.”

At present in Northern Ireland, almost two in three adults (61%) are overweight or obese[ii] and the annual cost of overweight and obesity in Northern Ireland is estimated to be £370 million pounds[iii].

The "weight-mate" app features a daily weight and physical activity tracker as well as more than 400 calorie-counted recipes developed by nutritionists. Users can plan and track their meals and activities to help them reach their own weight loss goals.

The app also features a "Groups" function whereby users can set up their own weight loss or physical activity group in their own community or workplace; or join an existing group in their local area.

Almost two thirds (63%) of Northern Ireland adults now carry smartphones[iv] and developments in technology and mobile usage have created an opportunity for people to lose weight with the help of an app.

- Ends -

For more information or to request an interview, please contact


Russell Lever, Tel: 028 9080 2000 / Mob: 077 8828 8901 / Email :


Dermot Moriarty, Tel: 01 448 0600 / Mob: 086 381 1034 or Email:

Julie Carroll, Tel: 01 448 0600 / Mob: 086 150 3047 / Email:


 [i] Safetrak 2014 (safefood/Millward Brown Lansdowne)

[ii] Health Survey Northern Ireland 2014/15; DHSSPSNI

[iii] Perry I, Dee A. The cost of overweight and obesity on the island of Ireland, 2012 (UCC;safefood)

[iv] OFCOM. The Communications Market Report: Northern Ireland