Does the NHS referral system for weight loss actually work?

Published May 28, 2014 by Crystal

This has been brought into the news again today.

Questions that arose were firstly how much it costs the NHS, secondy how much weight loss brands actually pay the NHS for all this publicity, and thirdly, how effective is it long term?

On the plus side there was talk that only a few pounds lost can make a big difference.  But the cynical side of me then asked whether it was the diet companies saying it so that they invite people in and get them hooked.

How long do these referrals manage to keep going?  Do they reach their targets?  Do they maintain weight loss?

Well I’ve found an evaluation about the Slimming World Referral Scheme (google it, I can’t seem to link to the pdf location) and the results are somewhat depressing in my opinion. Out of over 800 people introduced to the scheme, over 400 started.  Of those 400 106 did not complete the 12 week scheme.  Out of the 400 only 128 people attended the full 12 weeks.  And out of those 400 people only 47.4% achieved 5% weight loss, and 9.4% achieved 10% weight loss.

There are many questions as to why this hasn’t worked.  What limited the people entered in to the scheme?  Why did some only attend one session?  Why did the majority not achieve 10% weight loss over 12 weeks?

I don’t have the answers.  I can only go on what helps and hinders me.  I can only say that for me, old style dieting does not work, and those statistics would suggest that I’m not alone.

So why are the NHS continuing to support this as the only really feasible option for the majority of overweight patients?  And why are they continuing to fund this when statistics would suggest a lot of money is being wasted by non completers?

Surely it must be time to look for other ways?

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