...information for health professionals

Slimming World on Referral

Slimming World on Referral is a subsidised partnership enabling health practitioners to refer patients to a local Slimming World group for weekly weight management support at no cost to the patient. Slimming World pioneered this NHS partnership programme with Greater and Central Derby Primary Care Trusts in 2001 and it is now an established obesity therapy in many NHS Trusts.

Our research


Stubbs, J., Brogelli, D., Allan, J., Pallister, C., Whybrow, S., Avery, A. and Lavin, J. (2013) Service evaluation of weight outcomes as a function of initial BMI in 34,271 adults referred to a primary care/commercial weight management partnership scheme. BMC Research Notes, 6:161 doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-161 (open access)

  • This project examined weight loss outcomes as a function of initial BMI in 34,271 patients who had been referred by their health care professional to Slimming World.
  • Patients referred to the scheme were categorised by BMI groups <30 kg/m2, 30-34.9 kg/m2, 35-39.9 kg/m2 and to ≥ 40 kg/m2.
  • Mean weight losses after 12 weekly sessions were 2.9, 3.6, 4.1, and 4.8 kg for each BMI category, respectively (p<0.001).
  • Percent weight loss was similar in each BMI category: 3.7%, 4.0%, 4.0% and 3.9%, respectively (p<0.001).
  • This service evaluation demonstrates that 12 week referral to Slimming World is as effective for people with high BMIs as for those who are moderately overweight.

Stubbs, R. J., Brogelli, D. J., Pallister, C. J., Whybrow, S., Avery, A. J. and Lavin, J. H. (2012), Attendance and weight outcomes in 4754 adults referred over 6 months to a primary care/commercial weight management partnership scheme. Clinical Obesity. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-8111.2012.00040.x

  • This paper investigated the weight loss outcomes of 4754 adults referred to Slimming World for 24 weekly sessions.
  • Mean average start BMI was 37.9 kg m-2 (6.7) and 31.5% of the referred population had a starting BMI of 40 kg m-2
  • Mean weight loss overall was 8.9kg (8.6%)
  • 74.5% of all patients enrolled achieved at least 5% weight loss
  • This study demonstrates that referral to Slimming World is a practical option for longer-term NHS weight management strategies.

Stubbs R.J, Pallister C, Whybrow S, Avery A, Lavin J. (2011) Weight Outcomes Audit for 34,271 Adults Referred to a Primary care/Commercial Weight Management Partnership Scheme. Obesity Facts 4:113-120

  • This paper audited the rate and extent of weight loss in a primary care/commercial organisation partnership scheme.
  • 34,271 patients were referred to Slimming World for 12 weekly sessions.
  • Mean weight loss overall was 4.0kg (4.0%)
  • Mean weight loss of high attenders (58%) was 5.5kg (5.5%)
  • This large scale audit demonstrates that referral to Slimming World is a practical option for NHS weight management strategies, which achieves clinically safe and effective weight losses.
Public Health

Lavin J.H, Avery A, Whitehead S.M, Rees E, Parsons J, Bagnall T, Barth J.H. & Ruxton C.H.S. 2006. Feasibility and benefits of implementing a Slimming on Referral service in primary care using a commercial weight management partner. Public Health. 120(9), pp872-881.

  • This paper investigated the use of referral of patients, by primary care practitioners, to Slimming World groups, to ascertain whether use of this intervention for weight loss is beneficial and feasible.
  • It was found that a collaboration of this kind, between NHS and Slimming World, is a feasible weight management option that is similar to, or better than, other options in terms of attrition, efficacy and cost.

Tod A.M. & Lacey A. 2004. Overweight and obesity: Helping clients to take action. The British Journal of Community Nursing. 9(2).

Patients' experiences of Slimming World and how this relates to the promotion of weight loss by NHS professionals.

  • This qualitative paper details experiences, thoughts and emotions that lead a person to the decision to lose weight and barriers to taking action.
  • This paper shows that there are many factors that affect why someone chooses to lose weight and their barriers to doing so, with self-esteem and confidence being the most affected by being overweight.
  • The limitations of the NHS mean that patients may not receive the support they require to move through the stages of change, improve their self-esteem and have a successful weight loss. The authors concluded partnership working with a slimming organisation, such as Slimming World, may help to make more efficient use of NHS resources.

Published abstracts

Pallister, C., Avery, A., Stubbs, J., Lavin, J. and Bird M. 2010. Slimming World on Referral in partnership with NHS Bristol: repeated referral up to 48 weeks. Obesity Reviews. 11(s1): 236

Pallister, C., Avery, A., Stubbs, J. and Lavin, J. 2010. Slimming World on Referral: evaluation of weight management outcomes when working in partnership with a commercial organisation. Obesity Reviews. 11(s1): 237

Bye. C., Avery. A., Stubbs. J., Horgan. G. and Lavin. J. 2008. Impact of Slimming World on Referral on rate and extent of weight loss. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

Avery A, Bye C, Lavin J. & Stubbs J. 2008. Is Slimming World on Referral an effective option to help people with learning difficulties manage their weight? Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics, 21(4):376-37. Click here to view our poster. (PDF download)

Avery A, Lavin J.H, Rees E, Whitehead D, Whitehead S.M. & Barth J.H. 2004. Improvements in mental well-being during weight loss on a slimming on referral programme. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 63. Click here to view our poster on Slimming World and Mental Well-being. (PDF download)

Avery. A. Tackling obesity in primary care: assessing the practicalities of working in partnership with the commercial slimming sector. 2003. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 16(5): 370.

Stubbs, J., Brogelli, D., Avery, A., Pallister, C., Lavin, J. (2012) Referral to a commercial organisation is as effective for people with high BMIs as for those who are moderately overweight.  Obesity Facts. 5(1):226