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An open letter on our partnership with Slimming World

The launch of our new partnership with Slimming World has generated some strong feeling – much of it negative – from the community.

We’ve spent the last week listening, responding individually where we can, and reflecting on the valid and heartfelt feedback many of you have given us.

We won’t dispute any of the feedback we’ve had about our handling of the launch, and we understand the very real hurt felt in parts of the community in response to the partnership. We want to listen and we want to learn.

Our partnership is built on the genuine and shared intention of helping more people living with and affected by diabetes, and is informed by research into the needs of people living with diabetes. That is as true now as it was at launch.

But we’ve made some mistakes in our approach. Mistakes we’re committed to learning from, and that we apologise for. But to move forward, we will need your support, even if you are angry with us and the choices that have led us here.

Engaging with people with diabetes 

When we were in the process of assessing this partnership we undertook a detailed and robust due diligence process. This included clinical assessment from our in-house clinical team.

While we were aware there were likely to be some risks to this, as with any partnership, we felt on balance there was a significant opportunity to share expertise with Slimming World, to support the many people with diabetes who already use their services and may use them in the future.

However, our due diligence did not include any discussion with our lived experience or clinical advisory groups.

Our commitment to you is that we are reviewing these processes as a matter of urgency, and we’ll be putting in place new ways to ensure partnerships like this one are discussed with our advisory groups in the future. We’ll also be discussing this partnership and the response to it with these groups when they next meet.

Our partnership with Slimming World 

At the heart of this partnership is a shared ambition to reach more people who are at risk of or living with type 2 diabetes, and to support people to either prevent a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or put it into remission. We know that many people have been able to do this through working with Slimming World.

But in addition to this we have a shared ambition to enrich, strengthen and enhance the Slimming World experience for those people living with and at risk of diabetes who use the service.

It has never been our intention to position this partnership, or Slimming World’s services, as the only option for people with diabetes who want support to manage their weight. But for those who want to use Slimming World, we are clear in our shared commitment to ensuring that their specific needs as a person with diabetes are met in a safe and supportive environment.

That’s why our partnership plans have always included two core areas of work:

  • Working together to further enrich and strengthen how Slimming World talks about diabetes across their resources
  • Providing expert clinical guidance on how diabetes is communicated and discussed among Slimming World’s Consultants and members.

This partnership is an opportunity for Diabetes UK and Slimming World to learn together. Some of you have told us that you want to be part of this work, and to be able to participate in our ongoing discussions with Slimming World.

Our commitment to you is that we will create opportunities for the community to speak directly to Slimming World about their experiences. We invite those of you who’d be interested in this to let us know, by getting in touch with our Helpline team at

Our commitment to tackling stigma 

We know that diet, healthy eating and weight loss are complex, highly sensitive issues that can cause and carry huge amounts of stigma. But we believe working alongside Slimming World to enrich their offer to people with and affected by diabetes is one way to address this. It’s part of our wide-ranging work to help change how we as a society view and talk about issues around weight.

There is still a huge amount of work to do to tackle the stigma that still impacts the community. We believe one part of this work is to allow open and supportive conversations about weight management – an issue we know is a cause of significant shame and stigma for many.

One of the reasons we opted to work with Slimming World was precisely because their approach is based on support and inspiration for everyone – not on humiliation – whatever their situation. We believe that partnering with organisations, who can help us reach and understand the experiences of more people, but are also willing to learn alongside us, can make a real difference.

We’re steadfast in our commitment to being actively anti-stigma, and that’s why it’s at the heart of our strategic priorities. We believe this partnership is just one way we can achieve these goals, by opening the door to honest conversations about weight management for those who want these conversations and who would benefit from them. We don’t believe it’s the only answer, and we know there is much to do on all fronts to dispel misconceptions about all forms of diabetes.

However, we know that for some the announcement – including its timing – felt stigmatising and we will learn from this. Our shared commitment with Slimming World, through this partnership, is to continue learning – from you – about how we can tackle stigma around diabetes, and around weight and weight management.

Disordered eating 

There have been a range of views expressed from people with very heartfelt concerns about the suitability of slimming clubs for people with experience of or at risk of disordered eating. This has come through loud and clear and is one of the key issues we will be exploring with Slimming World and the community.

We recognise there is an inherent risk of triggering those with experience of disordered eating when we talk about weight management, particularly when we know how prevalent disordered eating is in the community. We also know there is a real need for support in understanding weight management, diet, and the services available for other parts of the community.

We know that these issues hold different significance to different people and can – for many reasons – be triggering for people. We also appreciate the triggers for some with type 1 diabetes can, and do, differ from those for some with type 2, and we’ll be more thoughtful about this in the future. Our Helpline team, as always, is available to provide support to anyone struggling with any aspect of life with diabetes.

It is our commitment to you that we will work with experts in this field and more people with lived experience to learn lessons and take steps to improve our work in this area. 

A range of approaches 

We know that weight loss does not apply to everyone with diabetes. We also know Slimming World won’t be right for everyone, and it’s never been our intention, or the intention of Slimming World, to suggest that it might be. Weight management is complex, and the only approach that will work is the one that’s right for the individual.

For some people this will mean individualised support, tailored to their specific needs, and with the input of a clinician. For others this could be through services like Slimming World with support from peers. We will continue to advocate and campaign for the right support, at the right time, and in the right place for all people with all types of diabetes.

This partnership is just one part of our broad and wide-ranging work to support people living with, affected by and at risk of diabetes.

Next steps 

The launch of this partnership has not happened in the way we intended. We’ve caused upset and distress, and for that we apologise. We’re listening, and we will continue to do so, and we’ve outlined our commitments to you.

We have work to do now to rebuild the trust of the community where that trust has been damaged, and we truly hope you will give us the opportunity to do so.


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