Obesity on The Rise in Virginia’s Most Vulnerable Populations—How Online Workshops Step in to Help

Obesity rates in Virginia are at an all-time high. Over two-thirds of people in the state are obese—and vulnerable populations are more at risk. African American, Hispanic, and lower-income communities, as well as individuals enrolled in Medicaid, experience higher obesity rates compared to other Virginians. That’s primarily due to barriers to care. Generally, weight loss resources like programs, medications, and surgery are neither affordable nor covered by insurance plans.

That’s all the more concerning given that obesity is a disease—one that makes you more vulnerable to complications like Type II diabetes and heart conditions like hypertension and coronary artery disease. Fortunately, public and private actors are developing more solutions to tackle those barriers to care and make the path to better health more accessible.

One of the standout achievements so far is the online weight loss workshop. Here’s how it’s stepping in to help.

What is an online weight loss workshop?

At a weight loss workshop, you’ll learn about science-backed weight loss techniques in a group setting on a regular basis. You usually RSVP to get yourself a spot for in-person workshops, which you can easily find by Googling “weight loss workshops near me.” Online workshops take it even further. You can attend as many 30-minute sessions as you like, wherever you are. And despite being held virtually, they offer the same thing as their physical counterparts: a space where you can learn about weight loss from experts alongside people going through similar challenges to you. They can thus be especially beneficial for vulnerable populations in Virginia who want to tackle obesity.

How can online weight loss workshops help obese Virginians?

They’re accessible

Since they’re held online through platforms like Zoom, you can access online weight loss workshops whenever and wherever you are. All you need is a smartphone or computer. That can be especially helpful for individuals who live in rural areas and may not have ready access to healthcare centers that offer weight loss resources. And if you work full-time—whether at one job or multiple, especially since many Virginian workers don’t receive support for time off—that means you can attend one whenever you have a free half hour on your hands.

They’re affordable

Another benefit of the online weight loss workshop is that you can access them through several pricing plans. Monthly payments can go as low as $19, ultimately meaning there’s a workshop out there that fits your budget. That can make it easier for individuals with lower annual incomes, those without insurance, or those enrolled in insurance plans that don’t cover weight loss, to receive the necessary support. And since you don’t need to travel to an in-person workshop, you can also save on things like gas—which can be especially crucial with gas prices expected to rise further this year.

They provide tailored expert and peer support

Just like their in-person counterparts, online weight loss workshops are welcoming, judgment-free zones led by expert coaches and attended by people going through the same weight loss struggles as you. That means simply joining a workshop can give you a support system the Mayo Clinic believes is essential to achieve your weight management goals and successfully tackling obesity. However, you won’t be limited to the coaches and peers geographically located near you.

The virtual aspect of online weight loss workshops means you can effectively choose which ones best meet your needs. For example, individuals from Virginia’s African-American community, as part of the largest racial minority in the state, may want a coach well-versed in the unique challenges of obesity they face—like racial discrimination, a lack of safe places to work out, and the inaccessibility of healthier foods. If so, they can attend workshops helmed by African-American coaches with the specific expertise to address those issues. Regardless of the workshop you choose, the coaches and co-participants you meet can give you weight loss tips and tricks that apply to your specific situation for the best results.

Obesity rates are soaring among vulnerable populations in Virginia. Online weight loss workshops are stepping in to help by providing an accessible, affordable, and personalized way to receive weight loss support.

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