Raising the issue

Non-NHS Routes

Commercial slimming clubs

The content and structure of slimming clubs vary, but in general they offer support in the form of a weekly group meeting, they follow a particular food plan and have a membership and/or attendance fee. Typically, group leaders are previous members who have personal experience of using the plan to lose weight. The most well known UK commercial slimming clubs include:

 

Weight Watchers
http://www.weightwatchers.com/

Slimming World
http://www.slimming-world.co.uk/

Rosemary Conley diet and fitness club
http://www.rosemary-conley.co.uk/

While many of the clubs print details of individual success stories, unfortunately there is a dearth of published research evaluating the overall outcome of commercial slimming clubs. There are a small number of studies evaluating the outcome of the weight watchers programme.2,3 The recent BBC diet trials study included two of the commercial slimming clubs, but the study was relatively short-term at only 6 months in duration.

The lack of data on the outcomes of using a commercial slimming club should not detract from the fact that such clubs may be useful to those patients who want additional help and support with their weight loss. Patients should be guided to make an informed choice about the decision to join a commercial slimming club.

Ask your patient if they:

  • Are comfortable with a group setting
  • Feel ready and able to follow the eating plans
  • Are aware of the credentials of the group leader
  • Are aware if the club offers support with weight maintenance
  • Are aware of the cost implications

If a patient decides to use a commercial slimming club, then it is important to track their progress with them and not to discharge the responsibility for weight management to the slimming club alone. This is especially important in order to monitor outcomes other than body weight, such as blood pressure or blood biochemistry measurements, which are relevant to the overall health risk of the patient. Keeping an interest in the patients' progress will help them to feel supported in their weight management efforts. It is interesting to note that the number of men attending slimming clubs is small in comparison to female members.