All GPs should be able to refer people who are overweight to weight-management services, say 95% of slimmers

A new poll also found nine in 10 people with direct experience of losing weight welcome the Government’s new obesity strategy.

A raft of measures was revealed as part of the Government’s new obesity strategy, in a bid to get the nation fit and healthy, improve resilience against COVID-19 and protect the NHS. The campaign follows growing research which shows that being overweight or living with obesity puts you at increased risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Slimming World, the UK’s largest group-based weight-loss programme, asked its members if they thought the Government had got it right.

And the results of the survey of more than 1,300 members of the organisation’s virtual groups and online service revealed that slimmers overwhelmingly support the Government’s new obesity strategy (90%).

The poll also revealed that the Government’s commitment to expanding weight-management services so that more people get the support they need to lose weight was welcomed. Some 95% of slimmers agreed access to slimming clubs via referral from GPs should be available in every community. Currently access varies across the UK, highlighting a postcode lottery in this area.

Slimming World pioneered referral and partnership with the health service nearly 20 years ago, and the scheme gives GPs, nurses and other health professionals the opportunity to offer free membership of a local Slimming World group to those patients who they feel would benefit. Independent research shows it is a cost-effective and successful system – with Slimming World leading to greater weight loss in 12 months than any other weight-loss organisation.*

As well as helping people to improve their health, a key focus for the Government is supporting families to make healthy lifestyle changes. The respondents felt slimming clubs, like Slimming World, were successful in this respect, with 94% reporting they believed they and their family were healthier since they joined Slimming World and that they were able to pass on healthy habits to their loved ones.

89% of those members we polled said having the support of a group of likeminded people was the most important factor in them adopting healthy habits and making long-term changes to lose weight.
Jenny Caven, Director of External Affairs

Commenting on the results of the poll, Slimming World’s Director of External Affairs Jenny Caven says: “The package of policy measures to tackle obesity that’s been announced by the Government is a positive step forward. Our members, who have real-life experience of the challenges and achievements of weight loss, know better than anyone that to lose weight successfully, people need support. In fact, 89% of those members we polled said having the support of a group of likeminded people was the most important factor in them adopting healthy habits and making long-term changes to lose weight.

“As the Prime Minister himself has acknowledged, losing weight can be tough and changing the habits of a lifetime takes real and sustained effort. In order to achieve their goal of helping people to urgently make changes to their lifestyles, any solution from the Government must address the psychological as well as physiological aspects of losing weight. Providing people with expert, effective, empathetic care and understanding, along with a good sound evidence-based behaviour change programme to help them eat more healthily and become more active, and to do both in ways they can sustain for the long term, is the only way to create lasting change.

“Slimming World already works with the Government via Public Health England as partners in the new Better Health campaign and with the NHS through our ‘slimming on referral’ service. Our research with 1.1 million members shows that on average Slimming World members lose a clinically significant 5% of their body weight (9.9lbs) within three months. Anyone whose weight is affecting their health – and that’s nearly two thirds of adults in the UK – needs to urgently find support to make changes to our lifestyle. Slimming World has the behaviour change expertise and is ready and able both through our local weekly groups and online programme to support members and their families in every community.”

Slimming World introduced a temporary virtual service when lockdown closed its community groups across the UK and Ireland. From Monday 10th August, throughout August and September Slimming World Consultants and members will be safely returning to their much-loved groups in the heart of communities. As well as being able to provide the very best weight-loss support, the health and wellbeing of members and Consultants is Slimming World’s absolute priority. To ensure that every member returning to their group does so feeling as safe, confident and comfortable as they possibly can Slimming World is closely monitoring Government and local authority guidance and supporting its Consultants to ensure full risk assessments are in place and all groups are COVID-19 secure.


Findings from a survey of 1,352 Slimming World members, who were attending a virtual Slimming World group or using Slimming World Online, conducted via Slimming World Online and LifelineOnline, the free site for Slimming World group members. Responses were captured between July 31st and August 6th, 2020.

*Research published in the British Journal of General Practice 2014 shows that at 12 months, Slimming World leads to a greater weight loss than other weight loss programmes. In 2015, an independent economic evaluation by the University of Leeds found that, compared to usual care, Slimming World on Referral is cost-effective against the standards set by NICE at 12 months and over a lifetime.

About Slimming World

Following the suspension of weekly groups as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Slimming World launched a temporary virtual service. However the easing of lockdown in many areas means Consultants and members are starting to return safely to their much-loved groups in the heart of communities. Slimming World is working to provide support to as many members as possible, and where it’s not possible to open a real-life group will continue to offer support virtually. As well as being able to provide the very best weight-loss support, the health and wellbeing of Slimming World’s members and Consultants is an absolute priority. All Slimming World Consultants are completing a full risk assessment along with the venues in which they are running groups to comply fully with the relevant government and local authority guidance and new safety measures are in place to keep groups safe.

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety and energy density. A phased activity programme, Body Magic, eases members into activity until it becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine. The principles behind Slimming World’s philosophy are based on a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people who are overweight and recognition that those who struggle with weight carry a double burden, the weight itself and a burden of guilt and shame about their weight. Slimming World’s programme integrates practical, up-to-date advice with a highly developed support system based on care and compassion. Consultants are trained in the role of diet and physical activity in weight management, as well as sophisticated behaviour-change techniques, and training focuses on facilitating, encouraging and empowering members to make changes in a supportive, warm and friendly group environment. Their training is delivered through the Slimming World Academy. Slimming World also invests in a comprehensive research programme to develop its support for long-term weight management. The group support provided by Slimming World is recognised as effective by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000. Follow Slimming World on Twitter at www.twitter.com/slimmingworld or become a Slimming World fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/slimmingworld 

For the Press Office please email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk