Keep NHS-referred weight loss programmes, recommends report

Wed, 25 May 2011
A new survey has recommended that the NHS should keep referring people onto privately run weight-loss programmes . The Department of Health maintain that these slimming groups can help people improve their motivation to lose weight and are also a cost effective option.

The research, by Slimming World, involved data from nearly 35,000 people who went on a 12-week weight-loss course, finding that over two thirds of those who took part finished the course, with each losing about a stone on average. The average person who finished a course at Slimming World lost 5.5 per cent of their body weight, which rose to 8.5 per cent for people who attended a group for six months.

The NHS pays for the membership fees for many referrals; however, some experts have expressed concern that such programmes only work in the short term. Tam Fry, spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum (NOF), said the government is "relying too much on companies like Slimming World and Weight Watchers to do their job for them and it would be far better to put money into real prevention measures."

Susan Ringwood, chief executive of the eating disorder charity Beat, also pointed out "Most people regain the weight they lose within two years, and many gain more than they first lost. Quick fixes that don't work just add to someone's sense of failure and can lead to the downward spiral of helplessness that can lead to much more serious mental health issues."
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