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Five-point manifesto to support people and families living with obesity

Slimming World | Slimming World

4 min read Partner content

As the General Election campaigning gathers pace, the UK and Ireland’s largest weight loss organisation, Slimming World, is calling on the next government to commit to helping more people living with obesity

In its five-point manifesto launched today, Slimming World calls on the new government to support people living with obesity to lose weight with a personalised approach, improve their health outcomes, and relieve the financial burden on the NHS.

Since the General Election in 2019, obesity policy in the UK has been subject to indecision and U-turns, linked in part to government leadership changes. In 2023, the government announced a £40 million pilot to roll out GLP-1 weight loss medications to a wider population, marking a major shift in government obesity policy.

Elise Wells, Slimming World Director, says: “Despite many promises, a review of the obesity strategy, which has been subject to considerable downgrading and policy reversal, has failed to materialise. It is easy to believe that the new generation of GLP-1 weight loss medications is the holy grail, but current issues with supply mean many health professionals are unable to prescribe them. If, in future, they become the only treatment option available to help patients, it will leave those who don’t want to rely on the injections or can’t take the injections without any support.

“GLP-1 weight loss medications may help to alleviate the upward trajectory in the short term, but medicalising a problem that experts and government know requires a change of diet alongside physical activity and behavioural support to ensure long-term success is not the answer. We firmly believe that equal consideration must be given to people who cannot, or do not wish to, take the drugs that are proven ineffective in the longer term without a change of diet and increase in physical activity."

Slimming World’s ‘five-point manifesto to support people and families living with obesity’ calls on the government to commit to policies with a specific focus on ensuring healthcare professionals have a choice of weight loss options to offer patients without relying on drugs.

The five calls are:

  • Call 1:  To actively support the option of evidence-based and effective lifestyle-based weight loss programmes so that healthcare professionals have a full range of treatment choices for people without medicalising obesity as the first and only option.
  • Call 2: To ensure effective and evidence-based wraparound support – comprising diet, physical activity, and behaviour change strategies – for people using weight-loss drugs, with a robust monitoring and evaluation strategy to ensure prescribers are compliant with these guiding principles of effective weight loss.
  • Call 3: Publish clear guidance on healthy weight management in pregnancy with the introduction of clear guidelines on safe and healthy weight gain for all pregnant women, regardless of their starting BMI. 
  • Call 4: Establish a coherent strategy, long-term to recognise the link between overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes and commit to removing the societal stigma, challenges and misconceptions that prevent people from accessing diagnosis, treatment and support.
  • Call 5: Introduce training for healthcare professionals to enable sensitive and skilled conversations about weight. Mandatory training should be introduced for all healthcare professionals who interact with patients living with overweight and obesity to equip them with the skills to raise the issue of obesity and weight management sensitively and effectively.

Launching Slimming World’s manifesto, Wells says: “By 2050, it is predicted that the number of adults in the UK who are living with obesity will rise by 73% to 26 million people. As well as the emotional difficulties experienced by some people living with obesity, this public health crisis is linked to many serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and several types of cancers which not only impacts a person’s physical health but has a knock-on effect to the NHS and the economy.”

Established in 1969, Slimming World is the UK’s most advanced and effective weight management organisation. More people in the UK choose to attend a Slimming World group each week than any other weight loss programme. It supports over 700,000 members each week through community weight-loss groups, run by 3,500 highly trained self-employed Consultants, and an online service.

The healthy influence of Slimming World stretches right across families too, with 74% of current members reporting that they have influenced their family to make healthier food choices, and many involving their family in activity (Avery et al, 2023).  

Wells concludes: “The pressure that obesity puts on people’s lives, the economy and NHS needs everyone – health professionals, politicians, policymakers, industry and the NHS – to pledge to work together on a practical, effective strategy that recognises one size doesn’t fit all and, crucially, stick to it.”

The Five-point manifesto from Slimming World is available online. Download now.


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