Planning for pregnancy gives opportunity for compassionate conversations about weight

Slimming World has welcomed the latest annual report from Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, entitled ‘Health of the 51%: Women’.

The report highlights planning for pregnancy as a key missed opportunity to give women health messages to improve their mental and physical health and that of their children. It also calls for all women to work with healthcare professionals to make positive changes when planning to get pregnant and to stay healthy throughout their pregnancy.

Carolyn Pallister, Slimming World Public Health Manager, says: “The CMO is absolutely right to highlight the opportunity for health professionals to talk to women who are planning a pregnancy about how they can manage their weight and improve their health.

“This is a natural time for women to think not only about their own health but also the health of their future child. During this period, many women are particularly open, not only to taking action to lose weight, but also to doing it with support to make long-term changes to their eating habits and becoming more active, rather than through faddy short-term diets.


Carolyn Pallister, Public Health Manager
We’re the only national weight management organisation to support women through every stage of their pregnancy, and work closely with the Royal College of Midwives.
Carolyn Pallister, Public Health Manager

“We’re the only national weight management organisation to support women through every stage of their pregnancy, from pre-conception to post natally, and work closely with the Royal College of Midwives. We know that many health professionals may worry about talking to women about their weight for fear of causing offence. However, with such strong evidence that carrying excess weight can increase the health risks for both mother and baby, they really have a duty of care to raise the issue.

“The really important thing though is how health professionals go about having that difficult conversation. Talking to patients about their weight in a compassionate, caring and respectful way can empower women to make healthy changes, while being critical or judgemental is not only offensive, it can be very counterproductive.

“We believe the Government should introduce a national training programme for health professionals to give them the skills to raise the issue in a compassionate way and to understand where to signpost patients for effective support in making healthy lifestyle changes, losing weight and maintaining weight loss.”

Case study

Julie Guihen, 34, from Sheffield, was diagnosed with PCOS age 18 years ago. At the time her doctor let her know that, coupled with her weight, the condition could make it difficult for her to conceive. It stayed at the back of her mind until 2014 later when she joined Slimming World, lost 2st and fell pregnant. She’s now lost a total of 5st.

“After my doctor talked to me about my weight and PCOS I didn’t take action immediately,” Julie says. “Rather, I waited until I decided to have a child at which point I felt ready to make a change.

“I could have lost weight on a faddy diet, but I didn’t see the point really. I wanted this to be a proper lifestyle change so that not only would I lose weight, but I’d also learn the habits to give my child the best possible start in life too.

“I joined Slimming World last year and felt immediately at home after receiving a warm welcome. Making changes such as cooking healthy meals from scratch while still being able to have the occasional treat meant that I never felt hungry or deprived. I lost 2st and was amazed when I got the news that I was pregnant.

“Slimming World has a special programme for pregnant women that focuses on making healthy lifestyle changes, rather than on weight loss. My midwife was happy for me to continue attending Slimming World throughout my pregnancy to help me stay on-track and avoid gaining excess weight. I had a very healthy pregnancy and have now lost a total of 5st since first joining Slimming World.

“There is no doubt that this has been an amazing thing for me and my family. We all eat the same meals, we’re happy and healthy, and we love going out and about together. It was definitely the right time for me to make a change when I was planning a family and I’m sure that will be the case for many other women too.”

Notes to Editors

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. There are now more than 18,000 groups held weekly across the UK and Republic of Ireland via a network of 4,000 community-based Slimming World Consultants, who receive specific training in the role of diet and physical activity in weight management, as well as sophisticated behaviour-change techniques.

Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety and energy density. Our 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 overweight people and a 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, and Consultant training focuses on facilitating behaviour change in a warm and friendly group environment. Consultant 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 Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000.

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