HEALTH problems led Marlene Coleman to her local slimming group.

“I had a touch of angina and through working as a home help for many years I had problems with the cartilage in my left knee which was affecting my mobility,” she says.

The 77-year-old also had breathing problems and often had to catch her breath when doing non-taxing tasks.

“I had health checks and discovered I was borderline diabetic and had high cholesterol.”

A nurse advised her that losing weight would help to alleviate these conditions, so she joined her local Slimming World Group in East Bowling.

One in ten people aged over 40 in the UK now has Type 2 diabetes, and the number of people living with all types of diabetes has reached 4.7 million in the UK. The number of people affected by diabetes is expected to reach 5.5 million by 2030.

“I decided straight away that I did not want to become one of those statistics,” says Marlene.

The mum-of-three, who has seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, loves to socialise and eat out and was surprised to find that on her eating plan she could still consume all sorts of foods - meat, fish, poultry, rice, pasta and potatoes, salad, fruit and vegetables.

“They have some great recipes - I never go hungry,” she says. “I have always had a sweet tooth so I need to watch what I eat there, and I have cut out junk food and caffeine, but you can still have a glass of wine or two and lose weight.”

She adds: “I had tried to lose weight on my own but it was difficult. The group consultant Carol is so supportive and the group is so friendly, it is far easier to be motivated being among other people.”

Marlene has made lots of new friends in the group at Leicester Street Community Club and looks forward to going along.

“It’s much more than a weight loss group - the help, the support, the fun and laughter makes it something to look forward to all week.”

With the additional help of physiotherapy, Marlene lost two and a half stone in six months to reach her target weight of ten stone and 13lbs in January this year.

Her knee improved, her medication has been reduced and she now walks everywhere.

“I like to keep on the go and have never felt as fit,” she says. “It has made such a difference.”

Her doctor is very happy with the improvements she has made, which have vastly improved her health.

“Losing weight has helped me so much, and the physio at St Luke’s has been fantastic,” she says. “She is also on a preventative diabetic course run by the NHS.

“My husband has noticed the difference in me,” she says. “We almost sold our house because I could not get up and down the stairs, but now I can.”

Marlene also does voluntary work at the British Heart Foundation shop in Bradford which she enjoys immensely.

In August she took part in Slimming World’s Golden Body Magic Challenge to Walk 50 Miles to raise money for Cancer Research UK, as part of Slimming World’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations.

“I was also voted Slimmer of the Year by my group, which was wonderful,” she says.

Carol Mawbey, who runs slimming three groups in East Bowling, says: “Marlene is a shining example of how losing weight can improve your overall health regardless of your age and give you a new lease of life.”

She adds: “Our special eating plan encourages members to reduce the amount of saturated fat in their diet which can lead to high cholesterol and cause heart disease, which is what Marlene needed to do.

“The majority of our members who have diabetes find their blood glucose levels and general health improves.”

At one time Faye Mills did not leave her home due to her weight.

She found it difficult to shed the pounds after the birth of her youngest child, now ten months.

“I am a serial dieter, but I was trying hard to stay healthy and for that reason I did not want to lose weight while I was pregnant,” she explains. “I thought to myself I will eat what I want and sort it later.”

But after she gave birth to her son she carried on snacking. “You find you are so busy with this little person that your whole routine changes,” she says. “I was picking up biscuits - it was just the convenience of it.”

“I couldn’t hide behind my bump anymore. I just ate what was quick and easy and noticed that even my maternity clothes were no longer fitting me.

“I started feeling very uncomfortable around people and avoided going anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary.”

To avoid contact with others, Faye began to use buses or taxis to take her five-year-old daughter to school. “Most new mums want to show their new babies off but I just couldn’t wait to get back home and be on my own again,” she says. “I stopped going to the supermarket and would order my shopping online. I spent my days on my own. If friends wanted to come over I would delay them and say I wasn’t feeling good, I’d been awake with the baby or make another excuse for them not to visit.”

Her weight crept up to almost 16 stone. “I was wearing size 24 trousers,” she recalls. “Before I had been size 10/12.”

Realising she could not carry on as she had been doing, she made a decision to look online and find a nearby slimming group, but then hesitated.

“The thought of sitting among other people terrified me and made me feel awful all over again, but I was determined - I knew what I had to do.”

She bit the bullet and joined Carol’s group in East Bowling at the next available time.

“On arrival I was made a cup of tea and everyone was so warm and welcoming.

I left the group that day determined that that was the biggest weight I was ever going to see again,” she says.

“I was amazing to find that this was different “from restrictive diets that had been doomed to failure,” she says. “There was lots of informed support, choice and freedom.”

Since joining the group Faye has lost two stone and has started to enjoy life again. Her confidence has grown and she no longer hides herself away.

“I bought myself a pedometer watch and now clock up to 20,000 steps a day,” she says. “I walk absolutely everywhere, to and from school, into town, to the supermarket and of course to my slimming group.

“I even started doing my shopping two or three times a week to get me out walking with the pushchair. I don’t remember the last time I caught the bus. “My friends comment on how active I am and say it’s great to see me out and about again.”

Faye says she and her children are eating “the most amazing food”.

“They have a happy mum again,” she adds. “We eat well, but have just found a different way of eating. I now snack on fruit, not biscuits.”

Carol says: Faye is always positive, full of energy and now living life to the full. She has discovered the freedom to enjoy real food without feeling hungry and shares her food ideas, hints and tips with the group each week.”

For further information on joining Carol’s Slimming World group contact her on 07713 978045 or go along on Tuesday at 9am, 5pm or 7pm to Leicester Street Community Club, Formerly East Bowling Unity Club, Bradford BD4 7JS.

Facebook: East Bowling Slimming World with Carol