Because Food Optimising is practical, flexible and based on healthy everyday foods, it’s suitable for everyone – including young people, pregnant and breast-feeding mums, and people with conditions such as diabetes.
Family Affair: a tailored programme for adolescents
Our Family Affair programme enables us to directly help adolescents to manage their weight. We offer membership free of charge to young people aged between 11 and 15 if their parent or guardian is a member.
Young members following Slimming World's Family Affair programme report a number of healthy lifestyle changes, in addition to positive reductions in BMI z-score being seen. One published survey found that since joining Slimming World young members eat less unhealthy snack foods, takeaways and fast food, fewer sugary drinks, fewer unhealthy pre-prepared meals such as pizza and chips, are less likely to just eat what they are given and are more likely to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. They also report being more likely to now play a lot of sports, more likely to often be active and less likely to play a lot of computer games, watch a lot of television and avoid activity.
Young members participating in this survey had also lost a significant amount of weight (average change -5kg) while importantly still seeing a growth in height. Read more about this research
Family influence is a key factor in a young person’s eating habits and exercise routines. We encourage the whole family to make healthy lifestyle changes so that young people are not singled out, and we help parents to support their child in making these changes.
We encourage the young person to be involved in the decision making regarding food choices and activity. In the friendly and non-judgemental atmosphere of a Slimming World group, we focus on praise and encouragement whenever the young person makes even the smallest of changes.
By focusing on behaviour change rather than weight loss, we empower adolescents to take responsibility for developing their own personal route to healthy eating and activity.
Using age-tailored literature that encourages small changes we help young members plan what healthy changes they can make to their diet and work with them to develop ideas for becoming more active. Like all of our eating plans, there is no calorie counting and no foods are forbidden. Instead we help them to gradually reduce the amount of energy dense foods they eat, like crisps, chocolate and fast food, and where possible swap to healthier lower energy dense choices like home-made burgers, fresh fruit and higher-fibre breakfast cereals.
Slimming world has created two special booklets to accompany its support for 11-15 year olds:
- A guide for young people on making healthy lifestyle changes
- A guidance booklet for parents/guardians, Slimming World group Consultants and young members to use jointly to log and monitor the young member's BMI and any recommended weight control targets. Progress is checked every three months using BMI reference charts developed by the Child Growth Foundation, which are adjusted for growth for this age group
You can read our young members policy here
Pregnancy and post-natal support
Slimming World is the only national weight management organisation in the UK to provide healthy lifestyle support to pregnant women and breast-feeding mums. Our aim is not to encourage weight loss or dieting during pregnancy but to support women in eating a healthy diet and prevent excess weight gain.
We worked in collaboration with The Royal College of Midwives to develop our policy on the best way to support our members during pregnancy. The RCM is pleased that Slimming World is able to offer this support, and importantly, to help women avoid excess weight gain, which can result in an increased chance of problems during pregnancy and birth. We are now working closely with The RCM, as Alliance partners, to continue to raise awareness of the best kind of weight management in pregnancy, ultimately to improve the health of women and their babies.
Slimming World encourages and helps women to lose weight before conceiving, supports members in eating healthily and remaining physically active during their pregnancy and encourages mothers to breastfeed and manage weight healthily following birth.
During a member’s pregnancy our support focuses on healthy lifestyle behaviours rather than weight loss. Food Optimising allows members to follow a healthy, balanced diet without calorie restriction, and our Body Magic programme encourages and supports members in finding their own personal and enjoyable way of building regular physical activity into daily life.
As there are no formal evidence-based guidelines on recommended weight gain during pregnancy and women are best advised by their health care team depending on individual circumstances, our members are required to gain support from their midwife to attend group while pregnant. Slimming World does not advise on weight change during a member’s pregnancy but will support the member in following a healthy lifestyle and achieving any goals or recommendations suggested by their health care team.
Slimming World recommends breast-feeding mums consume a varied, healthy diet to supply all the extra nutrients needed. We advise that they make additional choices from the Healthy Extras section and enjoy Free Foods which are rich in calcium rather than increasing their intake of high fat/sugary foods to supply the additional energy and nutrient needs.
A booklet detailing the current recommendations for healthy eating and food safety during pregnancy and explaining Food Optimising while breast-feeding is available free of charge to members in group.
Slimming World and The RCM have worked together to develop a resource full of advice and health tips for women pre-natally, during pregnancy and post-natally. The website, developed in partnership, provides clear information to improve the health of women and to help them pass on healthy habits to their families. Visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk/mums to find out more.
You can read our pregnancy policy and find out more about pregnancy and postnatal research here
Individual dietary needs
Food Optimising caters for members with special dietary requirements or conditions affected by diet, including diabetes, Coeliac disease, lactose intolerance and IBS.
The generosity and flexibility of Food Optimising, along with its focus on basic, everyday foods, means that it is suitable for practically every dietary requirement or preference.
Consultants and members have access to a variety of health factsheets to help them incorporate their dietary needs into Food Optimising, for example, highlighting gluten and dairy-free products and alternative Healthy Extra choices.
We also have a booklet available for members with diabetes which highlights Diabetes UK’s steps to healthy eating and how these easily fit within Food Optimising.
We always recommend members follow any medical and/or dietary advice they’re given by their health care team. Because Food Optimising allows members to choose the foods they wish to eat it is easy to incorporate specific requirements with the support of the group Consultants.
Our research investigating members' experiences, highlights that members are given varying dietary advice for their diabetes management by their health professional, depending on individual needs. However, 89% of respondents found it easy to fit their personal dietary advice into their Food Optimising plan, enabling them to lose weight, improve glucose control and often reduce medication17. Over 90% of members surveyed in 2013 reported improvements in glucose control and 38% had been able to stop or reduce their diabetes medication.
Further research, involving 620 members (88% with type 2 diabetes) showed support from Slimming World resulted in clinically significant weight losses, improvements in HbA1c and reductions in diabetes medications.
- Members with type 1 and type 2 diabetes showed similar levels of weight loss
- Numbers reporting an HbA1c of ‹48mmol/mol increased from 16.4% (n=177) at joining to 51.5% (n=161) at the time of survey.
- 72% of respondents reported increases in physical activity.
- Length of membership at the time of survey varied, but for those who had been attending Slimming World for:
- 12-24 weeks (n=236) had a mean weight loss of 12.2kg
- 24-52 weeks (n=72) had a mean weight loss of 13.9kg
- >52 weeks (n=99) had a mean weight loss of 15.4kg
Members with types 2 diabetes also report significant improvements in aspects of quality of life including physical activity levels and physical functionality scores, measures of self-esteem, sexual life, public distress/weight stigma and working experiences (p‹0.000 for all changes) since joining Slimming World.
Read more about this research
Access for all
To help improve access to our group support, non-English speaking members are welcome to bring along a translator if they feel this would be beneficial.
Slimming World also has a variety of publications created especially to help members who are blind or partially sighted, hard-of-hearing or deaf. Audio CDs and Braille copies of new member support packs and a variety of recipe books are available. For partially sighted members, large-print copies of the new member packs can be provided.
Backed by experience of partnership work with Berkshire East PCT Slimming World supports members with learning difficulties in group, making use of more visuals to encourage the intake of low energy dense foods and healthier meal options. Anyone with learning difficulties or special needs who wishes to attend a Slimming World group is welcome to bring along a carer free of charge for additional help and support.