A British university is offering a masters degree course in slimming.

The MSc in Weight Management, which starts at the University of Chester in September, is said to be the first of its kind in the UK.

Aimed at personal trainers, doctors and health professionals, the year-long course will cover diet, exercise and the obesity epidemic.

It will also teach students about more drastic approaches to weight loss, including surgery and appetite-suppressing drugs.

Obesity expert Professor Kevin Sykes, director of the university's Centre for Exercise and Nutrition Science, hopes to attract 20 to 25 students for the first year.

He said the course would help to deal with the growing number of people making themselves ill by being too fat.

He said: "The World Health Organisation reports that overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide ... and is contributing to the increasing levels of disorders such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, orthopaedic problems, obstructive sleep apnoea and certain cancers.

"The MSc in Weight Management is designed to provide postgraduate education and training for the increasing number of health professionals dealing with people for whom being overweight contributes to health problems and reduced life expectancy.

"It is also aimed at those aspiring to work in this field, whether as doctors and nurses, physiotherapists and dietitians or fitness centre instructors," he said.

"It will give health professionals the knowledge and skills they need to advise people on changing their lifestyle, not just dieting, in order to improve their health."

Professor Sykes said the course had been welcomed by the British health industry.