...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 13 years.

Data from our latest evaluation of 27,733 patients referred by the NHS to Slimming World show1:

  • 26.9% of patients had severe obesity with a BMI over 40
  • Patients attended on average 8.8 weekly sessions over the referral period
  • Average overall weight loss was 5.6%
  • 55.8% completed the programme, attending 10 out of the 12 weeks
  • Completers achieved a mean weight loss of 7.5%
  • 76.7% of completers lost 5% or more of their body weight
  • Non-completers achieved an average weight loss of 3.3%

Previously published data on 34,271 patients referred by the NHS reported similar findings2.

A sample of these patients from the latest audit was also provided with surveys to evaluate their experiences, changes in dietary behaviours and satisfaction of the referral service.

  • 83.3% of patients referred to Slimming World reported they planned to continue attending a Slimming World group after completing their referral
  • 93.6% reported they felt better about themselves after participating in the referral
  • 96.4% reported their Consultant was supportive
  • 97.7% of patients reported being satisfied with the service Slimming World provided

Patients also reported many positive changes in dietary behaviours since finishing their referral. These included:

  • 58.3% of patients cooking meals from scratch more often
  • 67.6% reporting they were meeting the five or more portions of fruits and vegetables recommendation more often
  • 66.8% eating fewer processed foods
  • 58.9% having fast food and takeaways less often
  • 79.1% eating unhealthy snack foods at home and work less often


  1. Toon, J., Bennett, S, E., Avery, A., Roberts, K, E., Holloway, L., Pallister, C., Lavin, J. (2019) Longer term weight outcomes following a 12-week referral to a multicomponent lifestyle weight management programme across high BMI patients. Obesity Facts (12) p177. https://doi.org/10.1159/000497797 
  2. Stubbs, R. J., Pallister, C., Whybrow, S., Avery, A. and Lavin, J. H. (2011). Weight outcomes audit for 34,271 adults referred to a primary care/commercial weight management partnership scheme. Obesity Facts, 4(2): 113-120.

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