...information for health professionals

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 and when we have the support and recommendations of the young person’s GP or nurse.

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.

We have developed a guidance booklet for health care professionals, 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.

Slimming World groups have the expertise and experience to help in behaviour change. They are also another brick in the wall of social support that is necessary to tackle obesity in the UK.

Andy Hill, Professor of Medical Psychology, Leeds University School of Medicine