Discover the best way to lose weight for life…
The science behind Slimming World
Founded in 1969, Slimming World is the UK’s most advanced and effective weight management organisation. Every year, we help millions of people to lead a healthier lifestyle
Slimming World’s philosophy is based on a deep understanding of how people with a weight problem feel, coupled with a passionate desire to help them achieve their goals. Over 50 years, our programme has been developed and refined in line with the latest thinking on nutrition, exercise and the psychology of behaviour change. As well as our comprehensive service for adults, we have a special programme for young people aged 11–15. Slimming World groups are run by a network of Consultants, all of whom have been successful group members, and who work in their local community. Consultants receive specific training in dietary aspects of weight management, the role of physical activity and, importantly, effective facilitation of behaviour change.
Our multi–component approach
Slimming World integrates three key principles to help people adopt a healthier lifestyle:
A satisfying eating plan
Food Optimising – which promotes healthy eating patterns for life.
An activity programme
Body Magic – to help members gradually increase physical activity levels.
A warm, empowering group environment
IMAGE Therapy – which supports members and facilitates behaviour change around eating and activity habits.
Food Optimising – a healthy, satisfying eating plan
Food Optimising is a flexible eating plan designed to create healthy eating patterns that can be maintained long term. It’s based on nutrition science that shows that foods higher in protein and carbohydrate are more satiating than foods high in fat. Encouraging a higher intake of more satiating foods helps to limit energy intake and results in weight loss. Food Optimising combines the principles of energy density (the calories per gram in a food) and satiety (how filling a food is). A typical Food Optimising daily menu includes at least five portions of fruits and vegetables alongside a healthy amount of lean protein-rich foods and carbohydrates, measured portions of fibre- and calcium-rich foods, and a reduction in overall fat, saturated fat and free sugars (the sugars that are not naturally found in fruit and vegetables).
The Food Optimising plan focuses on three components…
Free Foods are those foods that satisfy the appetite while reducing overall energy intake. They include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, grains, potatoes and pasta. We encourage members to eat them abundantly. They are what makes Food Optimising so easy to establish and sustain, compared to weight loss plans that leave people feeling hungry and deprived.
Healthy Extras are measured amounts of foods eaten each day to provide a good overall balance of nutrients in addition to those obtained from Free Food. There is particular emphasis on calcium- and fibre-rich foods, including cheese, cereals and wholemeal bread.
Syns are the way members can guiltlessly enjoy the foods that many weight loss plans ban outright. Counting Syns helps members naturally limit their intake of more energy-dense foods such as fats, alcohol and sugar. These foods have a poor ability to satisfy hunger and, when consumed in large amounts, make weight loss difficult.
Body Magic – a rewarding step-by-step activity programme
Our Body Magic activity programme helps members gradually increase physical activity levels and improve overall health and wellbeing. It’s informed by a deep understanding of the barriers overweight people often face in becoming more active. Developed in collaboration with Professor Ken Fox, a renowned exercise and public health expert, author, and government advisor, Body Magic uses well–established psychological and scientific principles of behaviour change. It helps people find their own personal, enjoyable, and sustainable ways of increasing activity and making it a part of their daily routine.
aims to help build up an activity habit by:
- Removing psychological barriers to exercise and redefining what counts as activity
- Building confidence and expertise
- Motivating members to commit to a plan
- Providing ideas and solutions to help members increase activity levels
- Developing personal ’foot out of the door’ strategies
- Supporting members in turning new skills into a routine
- Celebrating and rewarding members when they reach a new milestone
- Continuing to support members until active living becomes a lifestyle
- Encouraging members to build up to at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity, five days a week
A warm, empowering group environment
Slimming World’s unique group support system is a rich weave of individual support in a powerfully motivating group setting. It avoids any criticism, control or judgement and uses elements of behaviour–change techniques including Transactional Analysis, Motivational Interviewing and the influence of ego states on behaviour to help people overcome their personal barriers to change and to avoid relapse. At Slimming World we call this positive support structure IMAGE (Individual Motivation And Group Experience) Therapy. Based on a deep understanding of the psychology of overweight people, our support system is designed to increase the confidence and self–esteem of our members, while equipping them with tools to develop lasting self–determined behaviour change. Our support is based on the belief that the burden carried by overweight people is two–fold. There’s the burden of excess weight itself, but there’s also a far heavier burden to be lifted – that of shame, self–criticism and poor self–esteem. For many overweight people, successful long–term weight loss can only be achieved by tackling these deeper emotional issues and this support is only effective when it’s delivered with genuine warmth, compassion, empathy, respect and understanding. We have a sincere belief in the power of group support – the power for individuals to support and be supported, to inspire and be inspired, and to take members through the phases of commitment to change. IMAGE Therapy guides members through psychological and behavioural commitment, reinforcing these consistently until behaviour becomes intrinsic, ie it has become important to our members and they’re no longer dependent on the group to receive reward or praise.
Our online service
The weekly support provided to members in group is strengthened through our digital service, which members can access whenever they like. For people who aren’t able to access a group, or prefer not to, we have an enhanced digital service, Slimming World Online, which enables members to follow our Food Optimising plan, our step–by–step activity programme and receive empowering support via an online community. The digital service includes an app for iOS and Android users, providing a rich library of supportive content and personalised tools that helps members find support based on their particular situation.
To find out even more about Slimming World’s approach and evidence base, visit our
Health professionals website