An online platform backed by £12m funding has been launched to support the government’s drive to manage obesity levels.

The NHS Digital Weight Management Programme, launched today, will provide free online for people with weight-related illnesses such as diabetes or high pressure.

Support will be provided via GP and primary care team referrals and will focus on helping people improve their health and wellbeing.

The government is also providing £30m funding or councils across England to expand weight management services, with the option for face to face, remote or digital support.

In most areas, services will include 12-week sessions, with dietary advice, physical activity guidance and support to help people start and maintain healthier habits.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “We want to make the healthier option the easy option, but we still know losing weight can be difficult for people. Making sure the right support is available means that we can help individuals make the most of the positive impact that reaching a healthier weight can have both physically and mentally.

“It’s really important we help people access services that are convenient for them and tailored to their needs. By expanding virtual and face-to-face weight management support across the country, we’re bringing improved health and wellbeing closer to home.”

The government’s Office for Health Promotion, set to fully launch later this year, will lead efforts nationally to help people manage their health and wellbeing.

An additional £4.3 million of new funding has also been allocated to 11 local authorities to support the expansion of child weight management services in 2021/22.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS England’s national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, said: The NHS Long-Term plan committed the NHS to a stronger focus in preventing illness and reducing the serious health concerns that people living with obesity can experience, including the higher risks of more severe outcomes with Covid.

“The new NHS Digital Weight Management Programme will offer online access to weight management services for tens of thousands of people living with obesity who also have diabetes or hypertension or both, with a strong focus on reducing health inequalities, improving quality of life and longer term health outcomes.”