SUNDERLAND’S biggest loser is encouraging people to get off the couch after it was announced obese Wearsiders are clocking up a £66million health bill.
Super slimmer Kevin McLernon said it is no surprise that 68 per cent of Wearsiders are overweight or obese, because we are living in a world where “everything is at your fingertips.”
The 40-year-old, of Seaburn Dene, won ITV’s programme Biggest Loser in 2012, after dropping from 32st 2lbs, to 19st 4lbs.
Since then he has continued to battle the bulge, and lost another two-and-a-half-stone, having qualified as a personal trainer.
Kevin, now a self-employed success coach – helping people to conquer their food demons – said that he would like to see an improvement in figures showing Sunderland is 144th in a list of the UK’s 150 most inactive places to live.
“Why can’t Sunderland be the most active place in the country to live?” He said.
“It would be nice when the next list came out if we were say 10th from the bottom instead of sixth.”
He added that people should stop being intimidated by the fitness industry.
“The figures don’t surprise me,” he said. “I think sometimes people just need to focus on making progress, rather than being perfect.
“You get these people who say that they just eat broccoli and chicken, but that’s not realistic.
“Most people know what they should be doing – eating fruit and vegetables instead of chocolate and crisps – but it’s just about being committed to it, which is something I have struggled with a lot.”
Figures released by campaign group ukactive recently revealed that lazy Wearsiders are contributing to a £66million public health bill each year.
And according to the report, lack of exercise cost £24.25million per 100,000 people living in the city, leading to 336 early deaths.
Kevin, who married wife Joanne, 37, in October 2012, said people should stop looking for external causes of a healthy lifestyle, and take control of themselves.
“I think a lot of people look outside for an answer,” he said. “People are blaming everybody but themselves, but it is down to the individual.
“Judging people by their BMI can be misleading because it is based on people’s height and weight, and doesn’t take things like muscle mass into account, and you can carry a bit of weight and be healthy.
“Most people know what they should be doing, eating properly and finding some proper form of exercise, not just walking the dog.”
Coun John Kelly, responsible for public health, wellness and culture at Sunderland City Council, said the council and its partners are working to address the problem of obesity.
“There are many established programmes that offer help and support on diet, fitness and nutrition,” he said.
“This includes advice to families and children, work in schools, working with transport authorities and many others on how everyone should think about how they can make more healthier choices in their lifestyles to avoid too much weight gain.”