Workers at telecoms giant BT have lost ten tons of weight thanks to the biggest ever health and fitness programme run by a UK company.

More than 16,000 workers signed up to the Work Fit campaign in a bid to improve their health and increase their life expectancy.

The fitness drive was launched last year after BT discovered that one of its employees died prematurely every two weeks.

Top performer following the four month programme was 37-year-old payphone manager Karen Lee from Portsmouth who used to find it difficult to get into a kiosk when she weighed 27 stone.

Karen shed eight stones after being told she would be dead within ten years if she did not lose weight.

"I have lost the equivalent of a small person and my life has changed dramatically," she said. "Before Work Fit I couldn't even get onto an exercise bike or lie on the gym mat, and I dreaded getting in a lift as I often pushed it over the weight limit."

Workers who lost the most weight were given prizes including free holidays.

BT's health and safety adviser Dave Wallington said: "It is heartening to see such great examples of how people can make a real changes to their lifestyles and help themselves to better health.

BT has now launched a stop smoking programme for its 100,000 employees.