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The power of group support: Slimming World is effective for patients with diabetes

Slimming World

5 min read Partner content

Research has revealed the Slimming World programme is successful in supporting patients who have type 2 diabetes to lose weight and manage their glucose control.

The findings, published in the journal Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, busts the misconception that people with type 2 diabetes can’t manage their weight through healthy lifestyle changes.

The study, championed by Audley Health Centre in Staffordshire, involved 69 patients who were referred to a Slimming World group by their diabetes specialist nurse. These patients were given 12 funded weekly Slimming World group sessions and were offered a second 12-week referral if they achieved a 3% weight loss. 

By 12 months, patients on average, had lost a clinically significant 5.5% of their weight showing Slimming World is effective for patients with type 2 diabetes.  Furthermore, a quarter of patients achieved more than a 10% weight reduction and over 80% of patients saw improvements in their diabetes control.  Remarkably, six patients (just under 10%) were able to reduce or stop taking their diabetes medication altogether.  

Participants also reported healthy lifestyle changes after this time, including less reliance on processed foods and unhealthy snacking and being more likely to go for regular walks.

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition and Research at Slimming World, says: “We know the obesity crisis is a ticking timebomb, on both our personal health, and that of the NHS which is funding a vast range of treatments associated with type 2 diabetes and other weight related problems. The results above showcase what can be done directly in the community, at a Slimming World group. We believe the support you get from being in a warm, empowering group environment is key to helping you eat more healthily and becoming more active too.”

“There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently about suitable diets for people who have type 2 diabetes. Our Food Optimising eating plan is so flexible - the vast range of food which members can enjoy includes fruit, vegetables, lean meat and fish, and pulses as well as starchy carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and potatoes.  For our members with diabetes, the plan can be tailored to fit their individual needs ensuring it is in line with the dietary advice from their health care professional.”

Commenting on the study, Audley Health Centre’s Practice Manager Julie Stokes says: “The results are truly impressive.  Any drug manufacturers would be pleased with this outcome. The study really does demonstrate support for a Slimming World approach for patients who are overweight and have diabetes. While there was no control group, the reductions in HbA1c, weight and prescribed medication are very significant.”

GP Dr Sharon Turner, Audley Health Centre says: “We are hugely thankful to Slimming World for their hard work with our patients with diabetes. The skill and contribution to the care of these patients has made a real difference to their lives, their treatments and their health outcomes. We have received many positive comments from group members.  All the hard work and commitment of Slimming World’s Consultant at the group is greatly appreciated.”

Slimming World on Referral allows health professionals looking for weight-management services to refer patients whose weight is affecting their health to Slimming World groups, offering them free membership, in blocks of 12 weeks. Many of these patients then go on to self-fund after their 12-week membership period is up. Slimming World’s research shows that referral members who attend at least 10 out of 12 sessions lose on average over 5% of their starting weight – a clinically significant amount – at about half the cost of obesity drugs.

Case Study

Jason Anderson from Bedworth, 49, lost 14st and 1bs. He explains his journey:

"I’d been overweight for pretty much all of my adult life and it was starting to have a huge impact on my health. In 2010 I started taking medication for high blood pressure and in 2015 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I’m a HGV driver and at my biggest I struggled to connect my trailer and even wear my seat belt.

"By August 2016 I was told I also had sleep apnoea and that I wouldn’t live to see Christmas unless I made a change. I was even offered a gastric band but I turned it down as I still wanted to enjoy real food. Thankfully my GP offered me 12-weeks of Slimming World group membership through the Slimming World on Referral programme. I decided I had nothing to lose and I haven’t looked back since.

"I joined my local group in Bedworth weighing 26st 6.5lbs. I was really nervous before walking through the doors of the group for the first time but soon realised I had nothing to worry about – I loved it so much I continued to self-fund after my 12-week membership was up and now I’ve made real friends for life. I wouldn’t miss going to my Slimming World group for anything.

"I couldn’t believe how much amazing food I could eat and still lose weight. I switched my diet of fry-ups, takeaways and pastries for homemade healthy meals like spicy chicken, sweet potato wedges and vegetables. The new way of eating enabled me to control my diabetes without worry.

"I’ve now lost 14st 1lbs and I feel like a new person.

"Since losing the weight my health has improved drastically. I no longer need to take medication for diabetes or high blood pressure. It’s the small things that have really made a difference too. I can run around after my grandchildren, I can put my socks on without sitting down, and I can fit the seat belt of my truck around me without worry.

"I’ve also taken up running and by building up my distances gradually I’ve really started to enjoy it. I even finished my first half marathon in September – something I’d never have dreamed of doing before losing weight. Thanks to Slimming World I have the life I always wanted and a real future."

Read more about Sliming World's work HERE. 

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