Background

Slimming World is a large-scale, private weight management service, delivering a weekly, multicomponent programme that encourages healthy eating, gradual increases in physical activity and behaviour change support to promote a healthier lifestyle and sustainable weight loss.The aim of this study was to investigate whether positive lifestyle behaviours encouraged within the programme are maintained post programme attendance.

Methods

6299 individuals in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, UK, who had joined Slimming World in the preceding 2.5 - 3 years were invited to participate in a survey. Survey data and electronic weight records were collated and analysed.

Results

276 responses were analysed, of these, 144 were still attending the service. Of the 132 members who were no longer attending, mean length of time between last attendance and completing the survey was 22 ± 8.2 months. This group showed a sustained reduction in body weight from baseline (-4.4%, UCI: -3.1%, LCI: -5.7%, p<0.001).Compared to dietary habits before joining Slimming World, a significant proportion of members no longer attending reported still eating more fruit and vegetables (68.7%), had switched to lower fat or fat free dairy products (67.6%) and switched from sugar to low calorie sweeteners (57.7%). Almost one third (32%) also reported a decrease in alcohol consumption.Of those who were no longer attending the programme, 42% felt that they were still more active compared to before they joined Slimming World and 43% felt that their general health had improved due to making healthier lifestyle changes.

Conclusions

Many members of Slimming World maintained healthy behaviour changes in the long-term after leaving the programme and showed a maintained reduction in body weight. These results demonstrate the long-term benefits and adoption of sustained behaviour change of a real-world lifestyle weight management intervention that are not always captured during the period of a research trial.