If successful, the programme could be expanded to cover some 700,000 workers

Overweight doctors and nurses are to be offered free Slimming World classes as part of a drive by the NHS to “practise what we preach”.

It is estimated that about half of Britain’s healthcare workers are either overweight or obese, compared to about two-thirds of the general population.

Simon Stevens, the NHS chief executive, was expected to outline the plans to encourage staff to lose weight in a speech on Monday, The Daily Telegraph reported.

He was due to say that “intensive lifestyle change interventions” had been showed to have a dramatic effect on weight-related health issues.

“For over a decade we’ve known that obesity prevention cuts diabetes and saves lives,” he will say.

“If these results were from a pill we’d doubtless be popping it, but instead this programme succeeds by supporting people to lose weight, exercise and eat better.”

Mr Stevens will add that “practising what we preach” would help tackle the current obesity crisis, which has seen the UK become the second fattest country in Europe.

A trial will be held involving thousands of NHS staff in which they will be offered free Slimming World classes as well as advice from dieticians and psychologists.

If successful, the programme could be expanded to cover some 700,000 workers.

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