...information for health professionals

What is Slimming World on Referral?

Slimming World on Referral... a powerful practical partnership

Slimming World on Referral is a long-established partnership scheme between health professionals and Slimming World, providing overweight patients with effective, long-lasting, community-based weight loss management.

Health Practitioners looking for weight loss management programmes can refer patients to Slimming World groups, offering them free membership, ordinarily in blocks of 12 weeks. The cost is paid by Public Health teams or Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and subsidised by Slimming World, making this a very cost-effective intervention.

The first weight management company to actively support the building of partnerships with the NHS, Slimming World pioneered its 'Slimming on Referral' scheme with Southern Derbyshire Health Authority in 2000. This partnership scheme was set up to provide patients with regular weight loss support alongside appointments with primary care. Our pilot with Derbyshire (Lavin et al, 2006, Public Health) proved that a commercial weight loss management company could offer an effective solution to reduce overweight and obesity levels in the community. The pilot scheme provided recognition of service quality, patient satisfaction and value for money. It has proven to be an effective, low cost solution to the NHS with over 180 schemes having been established and more than 210,000 patient referrals having taken place in the past thirteen years.

Data from our recently published study on 34,271 patients referred by the NHS to Slimming World show that of those who completed the course:

  • 25.4% were considered morbidly obese (BMI>40)
  • Average attendance was 8.9 weeks (of 12)
  • 58.1% completed the programme (10 of 12 weeks)
  • Average weight loss of completers was 5.5% (4.0% across total population)
  • 54.7% of completers lost > 5% bodyweight (35.8% of total population)
  • Non-completers attended an average of 5.3 weeks and lost 1.8% of bodyweight

(Obesity Facts Vol.4 Issue 2, April 2011 pp.113-120)

Patient satisfaction and benefits
Patients are regularly surveyed to assess satisfaction levels and wider benefits of the referral service:

  • 97% of referred patients report being satisfied with the service Slimming World has provided
  • 96% report finding the groups enjoyable
  • 75% of referred patients tell us they plan to continue attending a Slimming World group after their referral
  • 91% say they feel better about themselves as a result of the referral

The Slimming World on Referral service forms a valuable part of our public health offer in Norfolk, and has performed above expectations with many service users exceeding their weight loss targets at the end of the 12 week programme. The Slimming World account management team is a pleasure to work with as they are always willing to help develop and refine the service further.

James Fullam, Healthy Living Team, Public Health, Norfolk County Council