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NHS online weight programme can lead to losses of more than half a stone, study finds

NHS online weight programme can lead to losses of more than half a stone, study finds

The NHS Digital Weight Management programme, available to both health staff and patients, is effective at leading to ‘clinically meaningful weight loss’, latest research has shown.

The study, highlighted by NHS England in its primary care bulletin last month, found that people who adhered to and finished the 12-week programme shed over half a stone in weight. 

The online programme is made up of three levels of intensity and is the first to be delivered using digital technologies across differing levels and at scale on a national level.

Launched in July 2021, patients can access it via referral from their GP and NHS staff can self-refer, provided they meet certain criteria.

NHS England data shows that more than 360,000 people have been referred to it by their GP and more than 29,000 NHS employees have signed up to it via the staff offer.

The programme is accessible via software applications and web-based platforms and consists of four core areas including managing mindset; encouraging healthy habits; and peer support.

The research, published in the Obesity Journal, was carried out among adults with obesity and a diagnosis of hypertension and/or diabetes between April 2021 and March 2022.

In all, 63,937 people were referred by GPs to the NHS weight management programme within that period – its first year of launch – with 50% of people choosing to take it up.

Researchers collected data, including changes in weight, for 22,189 (70%) of participants who had enough time to finish the 12-week programme by September 2022.

Of those, 46% ‘completed’ the NHS weight management programme, defined as those who engaged with it for a minimum of seven weeks.

The mean baseline weight for those who had time to finish the programme was 104.8 kg; and the mean weight loss was 2.2 kg (4.8 pounds). A total of 16% of these participants lost 5% or more of their baseline weight. 

For those who completed it, the mean baseline weight was 104.7kg with a mean weight loss of 3.9kg (8.6 pounds). Of those, 31% lost greater than or equal to 5% or more of baseline weight.

Authors said that greater weight loss was associated with older age and white ethnicity.

However, weight reductions were not associated with participants’ socioeconomic status, which may be down to the programme allocating people to different levels of support.

The study also highlighted that for some ‘digital interventions may be more acceptable than group-based services’ because they are easier to fit into busy lifestyles and avoid the perceived stigma of attending face to face sessions.

It concluded: ‘The outcomes of the intervention compare favorably to other similar interventions and adopting it might bring population-level benefits.

‘Incorporating digital delivery into clinical practice could enhance the overall effectiveness and reach of weight management services while maintaining patient-centred care’.

Elsewhere, a charity behind a pilot scheme to prescribe fruit and veg on prescription has called for national rollout, after reporting benefits on physical and mental health and a reduction in GP appointments.

A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice


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John Graham Munro 3 June, 2024 6:49 pm

Ban all cookery programs and T.V. chefs