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NICE: Guidelines for weight loss programmes

New draft guidance has been released by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for helping overweight and obese people to achieve and maintain a healthier weight.

Dealing with the long-term consequences of obesity costs the NHS an estimated £5.1 billion each year, by increasing the risk of serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

The new draft guidance on lifestyle weight management programmes contains recommendations on minimising harm, addressing expectations and notes on what should be the core components of such programmes.

NICE states that providers should emphasise to adults the importance of motivation and commitment. Also equipment and facilities provided should meet the needs of most adults who are overweight or obese.

Weight management programmes should focus on long-term lifestyle change rather than temporary weight loss, setting achievable goals.

Also health professionals referring to such programmes should focus mainly on adults with a BMI over 30 kg/m² and on people identified as overweight or obese through the NHS Health Check or other services. The use of lower BMI or waist thresholds, as a trigger to reduce the risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, have previously been recommended for black African, African-Caribbean and Asian groups.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health at NICE said: “This draft guidance isn't about quick fixes, it is about ensuring lifestyle weight management services support people in the long term.

“Programmes that address diet, activity and behaviour change can help people who are obese lose weight but they are only cost effective if the weight is kept off.”

The full draft guidance is available to view on the NICE website.