Health trainers are a recent idea developed by the NHS as a way to help people stop smoking, lose weight, and learn to exercise.
The idea is that patients will be able to see dieticians, anti-smoking practitioners, or exercise specialists after undergoing a lifestyle MOT. The tests will be similar to those undertaken for a gym induction - such as blood pressure and body mass index.
The health trainers - some of whom will be volunteers - will be required to undergo NHS training to equip them for their new roles, but it is not envisaged that the advice they give will be complex. Health trainers will offer people information along the lines of that given on the BBC programme Fat Nation - basic dietary advice, nutritional advice, and general advice about how to become more active. Membership of private gyms will not be included, but patients will have access to exercise facilities if they want this.
The scheme is part of the government's plans to encourage better lifestyles after evidence of widespread obesity and illness. This approach tallies with the belief that such advice should not be bestowed from the government on high, but should be offered on a community level. While there is a great deal of advice and information available, and recommendations to change, little of it recognizes the realities of everyday life. This scheme aims to address these problems by having contacts who are visible and accessible to local people through living and working in the community - providing "support from next door".
They will aim to motivate individuals to set personal goals for improving their lifestyle, help them develop a personal plan, and support them in carrying out their plans.