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Weight Management Slimming Program - UK
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Weight Management Slimming Program - UK

Weight Management Study Background
The prevention and management of overweight/obesity are fundamental to a number of national service frameworks. A strategic document, Tackling Obesity in Southern Derbyshire, (Avery 2000), was produced which proposed one opportunity for weight management as partnership working with a commercial slimming organisation. A feasibility study was set up to establish how to best manage such a partnership.

Weight Management Study Aim
The aims were to see if people referred from primary care attended and maintained attendance at a commercial slimming club, identify factors associated with successful participation and gather baseline data to help plan future intervention studies comparing referral with other interventions.

Weight Management Subjects
Two inner city practices recruited 107 patients (BMI>30kg/m2, aged 18-70years), between September 2001 and February 2002. Ethical approval was obtained. Patients were given vouchers covering free membership and 12 weeks attendance at a local Slimming World class of their choice. It was imperative that people attending through 'slimming on referral' would not be made to feel different in any way. Patients were encouraged to stay in the program after 3 months but they then became responsible for their own weekly fees. Patients were reviewed by the primary care team at 3 and 6 months. The average age of the participants was 49.5yrs, 88 percent were female and 11 percent of the study population were known to have diabetes. The average BMI was 36kg/m2 (range 30-47), with 50 percent having a BMI above 35.

Weight Management Study Method
A series of questionnaires were designed to evaluate the study, besides weight change being used as outcome. The questionnaires collected socio-economic data as well as information relating to general health, lifestyle, motivation to lose weight and experience of the club. There was also interest in possible barriers to continue going to the group, both within the 3 month free period and subsequent 3 months. Following recruitment 91 (85 percent) participants enrolled with a Slimming World class. Of these, 68 percent of the enrolled population, (n=62),completed the 3month free attendance at the class of their choice. 76 percent of participants who completed indicated that they intended to carry on attending the class, but paying normal class fees.

Weight Management Study Results
Participants weights were recorded at the 3month follow-up practice visit and their weekly weight change recorded at their Slimming World class. From these records the mean weight loss of those completing the free attendance was 11.9lb. 34 people completed 6 months with a mean weight loss of 24.3lb.

Weight Management Conclusion
The qualitative data supports the partnership between the health sector and a commercial slimming organisation: 'had I not had the push from the surgery I would not have gone despite being overweight', 'I was helped at a time when I had a low self-esteem and financial problems'.

There is a need to be innovative in the management of obesity, with dietitians and nursing staff increasingly in short supply. Furthermore anti-obesity medication is placing a burden on the prescribing budget of most PCTs. The commercial sector has an already established infrastructure and product that is well taken up. Collaboration has the potential to benefit both the public and private sector in an approach that could both be highly cost effective and sustainable.

Source: Avery, A. Tackling Obesity in Southern Derbyshire: A Framework for Action (2000). The study was joint funded by Southern Derbyshire Health Authority and Slimming World.

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