Lighten Up and Maternal Lighten Up in Birmingham

Birmingham Lighten Up

Lighten Up was a kick-start weight loss programme, which ran until 2016, offering access to a choice of 12 week online or commercial weight management programmes for people in the Birmingham area.

Birmingham Lighten Up call centre, pictured in 2013
Clients who met the criteria (based on their BMI, age, and other conditions that may be affected by their weight) were referred to the service via their GP. They either joined an online weight loss programme (Choose2BSlim for women, or Commit2BFit for men), or received twelve weeks worth of vouchers to attend group sessions with one of the commercial weight management services: Slimming World, Weight Watchers or Rosemary Conley.

Most importantly, they were given extra help from our Lighten Up call centre to make sure they achieved their goals.

Once they completed the 12 weeks, Birmingham Lighten Up clients were offered the maintenance programme – a pack with weight record cards, tips and hints on weight loss and exercise, plus further calls from the call centre to keep them motivated and encouraged to stick with the plan.

This original Lighten Up programme was very successful in targeting people in deprived areas of South Birmingham. A large majority of those taking part in the programme successfully lost five per cent of their starting weight and maintained the loss after 12 months. It was also cost effective – less than £100 per client per year.

Maternal Lighten Up

One in five pregnant women in Birmingham is overweight and runs a higher risk of complications during pregnancy. The Maternal Lighten Up service was designed to help women maintain a healthy weight in the months leading up to birth. Unlike the general Lighten Up service, Maternal Lighten Up wasn’t about weight loss, but about limiting weight gain in a healthy way.

The Birmingham-wide Maternal Lighten Up service got the majority of its referrals – women who are up to 28 weeks pregnant with a BMI of over 30 – from midwives, and clients were given the choice of three services to take up: Maternal Health Trainers, Birthfit or Slimming World (for general healthy eating and exercise tips).

Lighten Up’s legacy

The Lighten Up and Maternal Lighten Up services in Birmingham were discontinued by Birmingham Public Health due to budget cuts in Spring 2016. However, Gateway Family Services now runs a similar programme in Solihull: Solihull Lighten Up.

We’re also delighted to report that shared learning from the Birmingham Lighten Up service shaped and influenced NICE Guidance PH53 Weight Management: Lifestyle Service for overweight and obese adults.