We know from our Lighten Up team and Health Trainers that people usually lose weight successfully when they follow a weight loss programme. But we also know that it’s not unusual for people to start putting some weight back on afterwards.
So we are currently helping to facilitate a trial, led by Birmingham University, to find out whether there are more effective ways of maintaining weight loss.
The trial, called LIMIT, aims to find out into whether further intervention after someone has completed a commercial weight loss programme (like Weight Watchers, Rosemary Conley or Slimming World) can help to prevent people putting the weight back on.
Dr Amanda Daley, Primary Care Clinical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: “Many people are successful at losing weight but unfortunately most people will regain this weight over time. The LIMIT study is looking at different ways of preventing people putting their weight back on again. In doing this we hope we can contribute to improving the health of people in Birmingham, which is very important to us.”
Gateway is recruiting participants from Lighten Up’s client pool for the study, so we are recruiting people who have already been to a weight loss group for twelve weeks (and received support from the Lighten Up team during that time) and lost five percent of their bodyweight.
It’s a “comparative study”, so participants are randomly put into one of two groups: a “control” group or an “interventions” group. The control group gets the usual Lighten Up follow up support, but the “interventions” group receive additional support, including some mentoring and suggested weight monitoring strategies.
The LIMIT trial fits in really well with the existing Lighten Up service for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the University are keen to look at this area, and we already work with people wanting to lose weight, so for us to recruit people for the trial makes perfect sense. Lighten Up staff already know their clients, so can easily talk to them about the wider benefits of taking part. And secondly, all additional data that the study gathers (which is anonymised, unless the client has explicitly agreed to sharing) can go towards strengthening the information we already have within the service.
Overall, we hope to learn what works best. We’ll be able to use the information to improve existing services and, potentially, to build new services.
At Gateway we are we’re always keen to find new solutions to old problems, and experiment with new types of service provision. For example, we originally set up the Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service as an untested, experimental model seven years ago, but it’s now an established service, constantly evaluated and proven to work.
Over the last few years we’ve become much more conscious of the need to demonstrate sound results, and it’s studies and trials like LIMIT that allow us to do that. They also give us the freedom to experiment; we believe our services work, but trials help us to find out what will work even better, highlight flaws for us to respond to, or help us show more clearly what we are achieving.
We’re always keen to work in partnership with others and we have a great working relationship with the staff at the University – so much so that we now have new departments contacting us with a view to being involved in new studies! We are happy to help, as we can show how studies like this, and their outcomes, might be able to fit around services and clients’ lives. And, of course, we can see the value that they bring to public health in Birmingham.