Slimming World supports both the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, (NICE) and Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network3 (SIGN) obesity guidance and the opportunity that they offer health professionals to work with commercial slimming organisations.
Both sets of guidance recognise the importance of providing regular and ongoing support for behavioural change – not only for losing weight but for maintaining weight. Slimming World pioneered referral from primary care to commercial weight management services and is able to demonstrate how it meets the guidance criteria.
A multi-component programme
Slimming World combines a satisfying, sustainable healthy eating plan, a programme to help members gradually increase their physical activity levels, and facilitation of behaviour change through our unique group support system.
Focus on life-long lifestyle change and the prevention of future weight gain
Slimming World’s focus is on supporting people to adopt healthy habits around eating and physical activity for the long term. Our weekly groups ensure members feel empowered and equipped with the necessary skills to develop lasting self-determined behaviour change. Members attend free of charge when they reach their personally selected target weight to support maintenance of weight loss.
Developed by a multidisciplinary team
Since 1969 our programme has been continually reviewed and developed in line with latest thinking on nutrition, exercise and the psychology of behaviour change. We have an in-house team of registered dietitians and nutritionists, while a specialist advisor panel brings together experts in a range of disciplines including physical activity, psychology, child and adult health and behaviour change.
Staff are trained and receive regular professional development
A dedicated training team delivers specialist training in facilitating behavior change for weight control via Slimming World’s bespoke Academy. As well as an initial foundation training package, regular on-going training, personal development and support is provided for all the Consultants who run our groups, with a strong focus on a deep understanding of the emotional and psychological aspects of being overweight. A robust management structure helps ensure consistency among our groups with a firm emphasis on quality of service.
Programmes should last at least 3 months, offer at least fortnightly sessions including a ‘weigh-in’
Our groups are open 52 weeks of the year and members attend for as long as they wish. Groups include a confidential weigh-in followed by a support session to facilitate learning and behaviour change. Members continue to be supported in between groups by a series of lifelines including personal support from the Consultant and other group members and free online support from the member website.
Ensure achievable goals for weight loss are agreed for different stages
At Slimming World, every achievement is recognised and praised, not just weight loss but new thinking and new decisions. Our award system helps members stay motivated throughout their journey, breaking down overall goals into mini targets and rewarding gradual changes in behaviour. All members set their own target weight and interim targets and there is never any pressure to reach an ‘ideal’ weight.
Ensure specific dietary targets are agreed, tailored to individual needs
Slimming World’s healthy eating plan encourages members to eat plenty of highly satiating, low energy dense foods while controlling intake of high energy dense foods. It empowers members to make healthier food choices, satisfy their appetites and lose weight – without the need for calorie counting or obsessive weighing or measuring. No foods are banned, but energy dense, high fat and sugary foods are limited to support weight loss. Members are supported in tailoring the plan to individual tastes, requirements and to achieve personally determined dietary changes.
Discuss how to reduce sedentary behaviour and incorporate activity into everyday life
Our activity support programme is based on the understanding of the barriers overweight people may face in becoming more active. Members are supported in taking those first steps to becoming more active, and build up in small, steady increments, with the ultimate goal of building up to the recommended 150 minutes'TM moderate intensity activity a week. Practical advice and sharing of ideas helps members reduce sedentary behaviour and make activity an intrinsic part of their day.
Use a variety of behavior change methods
Our support system combines individual attention and group participation in a carefully structured forum. Through a process closely resembling motivational interviewing, Slimming World Consultants begin to understand members’ individual motivators and goals. With gentle guidance members embark on a process of guided self-discovery – they become aware of their individual obstacles to healthy eating and activity and identify their own (often self-defeating) patterns of behaviour, and through carefully facilitated discussion within the group they are helped to develop new, personal strategies to overcome them.
Tailor programmes to support the needs of different groups
Our groups are held within the heart of local communities, at a variety of times and different days of the week so they’re as accessible as possible for the local community. Our flexible non-prescriptive approach allows us to support the needs of different population groups. Our programme has been demonstrated to be equally effective for men, those with particular medical conditions and with higher starting BMIs for example. We also provide tailored support and advice for groups including pregnant or breastfeeding women, teenage members and those with food intolerances.
Adopt a respectful, non-judgemental approach
Genuine compassion and care is fundamental to our approach. Our support
is based on the belief that the burden carried by overweight people is two-fold.
There is the burden of excess weight itself, but there is also a far heavier burden to be lifted – that of guilt, shame, self-criticism and poor self-esteem. For many overweight people, successful long term weight loss can only be achieved by tackling these deeper emotional issues and this support is only effective when it is delivered with genuine warmth, compassion, empathy, respect and understanding.