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Reviewing the Fit for Life weight management programme

The council is proposing to make some changes to the weight management service that it provides for overweight or obese adults, called Fit for Life. The programme was recently reviewed by an independent organisation and our proposed changes are based on their findings.

Through the proposed changes we want to encourage and support more overweight people, including those with disabilities, to achieve a healthy weight through using existing community resources. For severely obese people we want to make the referral process more user-friendly and encourage greater uptake with full completion of the programme.

The current programme

It is estimated that there are between 60,000 and 110,000 people who have excess weight in Tower Hamlets. Our current Fit for Life programme provides three different services:

  • a 12 week programme consisting of physical activity and healthy eating sessions with support for up to a year for clients who are overweight
  • a 12 week programme for overweight clients with disabilities or mental illness
  • a 12 week programme consisting of physical activity and healthy eating sessions for severely obese adults. 

The review of the current weight management programme found that:

  • it is too reliant on  a medicalised model which relies mainly on GP referral and does not allow people to self-refer
  • only a small number of overweight residents get help from the programme
  • the maintenance support needs to be simpler and more streamlined
  • there are high dropout rates at different stages of the programme
  • as a result residents are often not achieving the weight loss they seek and the service does not provide good value for money.

Proposed changes

To increase the number of people who are supported to achieve a healthy weight, a community based approach has been recommended for the overweight and disabilities part of the programme. This will make better use of existing resources and improve access for a wider range of people.

For those severely obese residents GPs and other referring practitioners will be asked to directly refer into the specialist service. The service will be responsible for seeing clients for the entire journey including the maintenance phase. We anticipate that this will be much easier for residents as it will provide continuity of care and avoid multiple assessments.

We will also be working with communities on how we can provide improved local support for people that have identified that they want to be more physically active and eat more healthily to help them to maintain a healthier weight.

The current Fit for Life programme will come to an end in February 2019. The severely obese part of the service will be recommissioned from March 2019 but with changes to the programme as proposed above. 

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